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v.l Polk - 

Southern Branch 
of the 

University of California 

Los Angeles 

Form L 1 



Volume I 

n^ravid, ty Wjn, Sa.rta.2! . 

[LD[£MTro(D®n=oW"?' IPCDlLC^o 







Vol. I 




Copyright, 1893, by 
William M. Polk, M. D., LL. D, 


Pi PI 




The author expresses here his indebtedness to the 
Rev. John Fulton, D.D., for the invaluable aid rendered 
by him in the preparation of this book. Dr. Fulton's 
close association with Bishop Polk as Assistant Rector 

\ and Rector of Trinity Church, New Orleans, during the 
period covered by Chapters VI. and VII. of Volume I. 
has enabled him to write more fully and correctly of the 

^ events of that period than was possible to any one else. 

"^ These chapters are therefore presented, practically, as he 
wrote them. 

'^ The page headings, chapter headings, and index are 

% the work of Mr. E. E. Treffry. The completeness with 
which he has performed this task will be best appre- 
ciated by those engaged in biographical and historical 



Ancestry.— Thomas Polk of Mecklenburg.— Under 
Washington. — With Gates and Greene.— Williajm 
Polk.— Germantown,— With Sumter, Marion, and 
Henderson. — Eutaw Springs 1 


West Point.— General Gaines, General Scott, Colo- 
nel Thayer, Dr. McIlvaine, Sidney Johnston.— 
Class Standing. — Graduation.— Travels through 
New England and Canada 45 


Enters the Ministry. — Theological Seminary, 
Alexandria. — Ordination. — Assist.^nt to Bishop 
Moore, Richmond, Va.— Travels through Europe. 87 


Priest to the Pl.'lntation Parish. — Missionary 
Bishop of the Southwest. — Work in Arkansas, 
Indian Territory, Republic of Texas, Louisiana, 
Mississippi, and Alabama. — The Negro as a Part 
of his Charge 127 


The Sugar Plantation.— Scenes from the Planta- 
tion Home.— Mrs. Polk.— The Slave and his 
Master.— The Cholera Epidemic l'')3 




The Negro, the Problem at the South. — How to 
Meet it.— Educate the People. — The Equality of 
THE South in the Union of the States.— "The 
University of the South will do ]\Iuch to Com- 
pose AND Reconcile National Feeling." 191 


Secession of Louisiana. — Action of the Dioceses. — 
The Church in the Confederate States. — Bishop 
Polk's Attitude 262 


Enters the Confederate Army.— The Manner of 
Doing it. — How the Act was Received.— A Tem- 
porary Service.— Efforts to Resign 314 


Lieutenant-Colonel Willlui Polk Frmtispiecc 

St. John's Church To face page 151 

Leonid AS Polk (Missionary Bishop of the Southwest) 

To face page 170 
University of the South To follow page IZ'd 


1(320 TO 1826. 

Settlement of John Pollock of Lanarkshire, Scotland, in the north of 
Ireland.— His son, Robert Pollock, serves under Cromwell; emigrates 
to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.— Change of the name of Pollock to 
Polk.— William, grandson of Robert Polk, removes to Carlisle, Penn- 
sylvania.— His son Thomas removes to Mecklenburg County, North 
Carolina; a Member of the Provincial Assembly in 1762 and 1771 ; 
leader of the opposition to British aggression.— General temper of the 
Colonies.— The revolutionary spirit in North Carolina.— The Meckleu- 
bvirg Declaration; Thomas Polk's part therein; appointed Colonel of 
Continentals ; serves with Washington at Brandywine and Valley Forge ; 
convoys the " Liberty Bell " to Bethlehem ; Commissary-General imder 
Gates; appointed Brigadier-General by Greene; why the appointment 
was not confirmed; death of Colonel Polk in 1793.— Mr. Lossing's error 
in his " Field-Book of the Revolution."— The eiTOr handsomely acknowl- 
edged.— Birth of Wniiam Polk, July, 1758; Major to the Continental 
Army at the age of eighteen ; engaged at Brandywine ; frightfully 
wounded at Germantown ; Valley Forge ; present at the defeat at Cam- 
den; serves vyith Davidson; following the fortunes of Sumter and 
Marion; battle of Eutaw Springs.— Colonel William Polk's career after 
the war; Member of the General Assembly of North Carolina; U. S. 
Supervisor of Revenue for North Carolina ; President of the State 
Bank; appointed Brigadier- General of the Army of the United States; 
declines the appointment; Commissioner to receive the Marquis de La- 
fayette ; his death in 1834. 

Before we attempt to sketch the career or to estimate 
the character of Leonidas Polk it will be of some advan- 
tage to recall some incidents in the story of the adven- 
turons race of pioneers from which he was descended. 
The origin of tlie family is obscure. An old tradition of 



the derivation of the family iiaiiu^ in its original form 
of Pollock is too clearly apocryplial to l)e worth repeat- 
ing. A whimsical talc of the exploit which led to the 
adoption of the arms of the Pollocks is not more trust- 
worthy, but the de\dce of a wild boar pierced with an 
arrow, and the motto, Audacifer et lSfn')me, " Boldly and 
Stoutly," must evidently have been suggested by some 
feat of daring in which courage and strength were both 

The branch of the Pollock family from which Leoni- 
das Polk traced his descent was represented in the reign 
of James, Sixth of Scotland and First of England, by 
John Pollock, a gentleman of some estate in Lanark- 
shire, not far from what was then the small but impor- 
tant cathedral city of Glasgow. Those were troublous 
times in Church and State, and John Pollock, who was 
an nncompromising Presbyterian, left his native land to 
join the new colony of Protestants which had been es- 
tablished in the north of Ireland. It was a hazardous 
adventure ; for although the last of the numerous pettj' 
kings of Ireland had jn-ofessedly suljniitted to the Eng- 
lish arms at the beginning of Bang James's reign, the 
Irish people cherished a vindictive hatred of their con- 
querors, and while the king-'s writ ran throughout the 
length and breadth of the island, the Scotch and Eng- 
lish colonists were often compelled to maintain peace 
by dra^nng and using their good swords. Little more 
is now known of John Pollock than that he lived to 
a good age, and that he had a son of true-blue Pres- 
byterian principles and of a strenuous temper like his 

Robert Pollock, a son of John Pollock, served as a 
subaltern oflficer in the regiment of Colonel Tasker in 
tho Parliamentarv avmv ac'ainst Charles I., and took an 


active part in the campaigns of Cromwell. He married 
Magdalen Tasker, who was the widow of his friend and 
companion in arms, Colonel Porter, and one of the two 
daughters of Colonel Tasker, then Chancellor of Ire- 
land, of Bloomfield Castle, on the river Dale. By this 
marriage Pollock acquired the estate of "Moning" or 
" Moneen " Hill, in the barony of Ross, county of Don- 
egal, Ireland, of which his wife was heiress. Her elder 
sister, Barbara, who was born in 1640, married Captain 
John Keys, an English soldier, and their descendants 
still own Bloomfield Castle. On the death of Cromwell 
and the accession of the second Charles, Robert Pollock 
resolved to emigrate with his wife aiid family to the 
American plantations. In 1659 he took ship at London- 
derry, and after a stormy voyage, during which one 
of his ehildi-en died, he landed on the Eastern Shore of 
Maryland, in the i^rovince of which Lord Baltimore was 
^' Sovereign Lord and Proprietary." Soon after his emi- 
gration the surname of Pollock began to be written Polk, 
and it appears in that form in the will of his widow, 
Magdalen Polk. Grants of land on the Eastern Shoi-e 
were made to Robert Pollock, or Polk, and to his sons ; 
and a homestead patented under the name of Polk's 
Folly is still in the possession of the family. In com- 
parison with other changes in the surnames of settlers in 
the American plantations, this change was slight. Tluis, 
in one well-authenticated instance, Beauclerc was trans- 
formed to Butler, and two families now bearing the 
names of Noyes and Delano are known to be descended 
from a common ancestor whose surname was De la 
Noye. Polk's Folly lies south of Fauquier Sound, oppo- 
site the mouths of the Nanticoke and Wicomico rivers. 
The old clock which was brought from Ireland by Rob- 
ert Pollock still stands in the hall of the dwellins'-house. 


and his iiuiliogany liquor-ease is still preserved among 
the family relics.' 

John Polk, the eldest son of iiol)ert Pollock and Mag- 
dalen Tasker, married Joanna Knox. Two cliildren, 
William and Nancy, were Ijorn of this marriage. Will- 
iam married Priscilla Roberts, and afterward removed 
tf) Carlisle, Penn., where his fourth son, Thomas Polk, 
grandfather of the subject of this memoir, was horn. 

Follomng the exami)le of John Pollock, the Scottish 
colonist of Ireland, of Robert Pollock, the Cromw<'llian 
soldier who emigrated from Ireland to Maryland, and 
of his father, William Polk, who i-emoved from the 
province of Maryland to the ])i-ovince of Pennsylvania, 
Thomas Polk set out in 1753 to seek his fortune in a 
new field. In company with his two brothers, Ezekiel 
and Charles, he traveled through Maryland and Virginia, 
skirted the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge, crossed llif 
Dan and Yadkin rivers, and finally settled in Mecklen- 
burg County, in the western part of the prox-ince of 
North Carolina. For his homestead lie selected lands on 
Sugar Creek, a branch of the Catawba River, in a neigh- 
borhood where not a few pioneers had ab-eady made 
their clearings. INIost of tliem were emigrants from 
Grreat Britain who had spent a f(nv years on tli(^ banks 
of the Delaware Ix'fore going to North Carolina: and 
among the sturdy colonists of Mecklenburg County the 
Scotch-Irish stock, from which Polk himself had sin-ung, 
was largely re))r('S('nted. In 17.").') he mari-ied Su.san 
Sjtratt, the daughter of a farmer who had renu)ved from 
Pennsylvania in the same year in whieli Polk had \vit. 

1 Among the desccmlunts of Rolx-rt Polk were Charles Polk, Gover- 
nor of Delaware, Trusten Polk. Oiovenior of Missouri and United States 
Senator, and James K. Polk. Speaker of the House of Representatives 
and President of the United States. 


Carlisle, and it seems likely enough that the bright eyes 
of the farmer's daughter, as well as the prospect of rich 
lands in the Sugar Creek bottoms, had cheered the young 
emigrant in his long and difficult journey. By industry 
and enterprise he soon acquired a large tract of land 
and a sufficient fortune to enable him to rear and edu- 
cate the nine children born of this marriage in the simple 
but liberal style of a colonial gentleman. His personal 
qualities made him a leader in the settlement, and in 
1769 he was chosen a member of the Provincial Assem- 
bly of North Carolina. Under his patronage an academy 
for the education of youth was established iiear his resi- 
dence, and he procured the passage by the Assembly of 
an act to establish "Queen's College" in the town of 
Charlotte, thus securing to young men in the western 
part of the province the opportunity of a more advanced 
education than is usual in newly settled regions. " Queen's 
College," though disallowed by the Crown, prospered 
until the Revolution, when the British troops took posses- 
sion of the town and l)nrned the buildings. The devo- 
tion of its students to the cause of American independ- 
ence gained for it the name of " the Southern Cradle of 

In 1771 Thomas Polk was again a member of the 
Provincial Assembly, he and Abram Alexander repre- 
senting the county of Mecklenburg in the Lower House, 
and Josiah Martin being governor of the pro\'ince. He 
took a leading part in all the patriotic movements by 
which the colonists endeavored to withstand the aggres- 
sions of the mother-country ; and Joseph Seawell Jones, 
in his " Defense of the Revolutionary History of North 
Carolina," declares that Thomas Polk was the first to 
maintain the necessity of dissolving the political ties 
which bound tlie colonies to Great F>ritaiii. His fecliniis 


and opinions were decided ; his expression of tliem was 
frank and courageous ; and Mr. Jones adds that " out 
of these feelings and opinions grew the Mecklenburg 
Declaration of Independence," in the framing of whicli 
Thomas Polk was the leading spirit.^ 

In his early zeal for American independence, Polk 
was in advance of most men of the Southern colonies. 
The prevailing sentiment in Vu-ginia, in the Carolina s, 
and, indeed, in all the colonies south of New York, 
differed materially from that of the people of New 
England. In New York the public sentiment, like the 
population, was mixed ; in New Jersey and Philadelphia 
the revolutionary spirit, even after 177G, was much more 
fervent in a few conspicuous individuals than among the 
mass of the people. In a broad way Virginia and New 
England represented two distinct traditional tendencies. 
New England looked back to the Commonwealth as the 
glorious period of English history; Virginia had sent 
her homage to the exiled Charles II. and had heartily 
hated the " Crop-Ears." The colonists of both demanded 
their rights as Britons, but their principles and prepos- 
sessions were widely different in many respects, and it 
will always be a cause of wonder that the most short- 
sighted of ministries should not have attempted to make 
terms with the one section in order more effectually to 
turn its arms against the other. 

The colonists in general entered upon the struggle 
with the king and his ministers with no puri:>ose of 
severing the ties which bound them to the mother- 
countiy, but solely, as they constantly and openly de- 

1 It must be admitted that the violent prejudice and the exaggerated 
style of this writer have seriously affected his credit as a historian ; yet 
his statements of the facts are generally trustworthy. In the matter 
here under consideration they are amply coiitlrmed by othur evidence. 


clared, to obtain tlieir constitutional rip-lits as Britons. 
Their aim, indeed, was rather to draw the bonds of 
nnion with Great Britain closer than to form an in- 
dependent nation. This desire was so general, and 
the name of Briton was so highly prized, especially by 
the well-descended colonists, that they were galled at 
every indication of a political difference between them- 
selves and their fellow-snbjects at home. Certain it is, 
that, nntil the British Government had explicitly and 
hanghtily refnsed to aeknoMdedge what the American 
colonists held to be their constitutional rights, and until 
a senseless course of petty but high-handed oppression 
had alienated their affections, no more loyal subjects 
bore the name of Briton than the people of the Amer- 
ican colonies. Thus far there had been little immigra- 
tion from the Continental countries of Europe. With 
few exceptions the colonists had come from the British 
islands. They had inherited the rights, and they under- 
stood the principles, of constitutional liberty. When 
their sovereign denied those rights and trampled on 
their liberty as though they were not Britons, then, and 
only then, reluctantly but resolutely, they drew their 
swords to vindicate their birtliright. War once begun, 
the old love turned to hate, and, before the struggle 
closed, the very name of Briton, which they had once 
prized, had become a synonym of all that was tyrannous 
and detestable. 

The people of North Carolina, however, and especially 
the people of Mecklenbin-g County, did not share the 
general sentiment of loyalty which in the earlier stages 
of the quarrel pei'vaded the other colonies south of New 
England. In his centennial address on the Mecklen- 
burg Declaration, Governor William A. Graham says, 
willi miu'h truth, that from the outset the leading spirits 


iu tliat province were eager for revolution. They de- 
tested the institution of monarchy, and they were un- 
alterably convinced that if the colonies were to be truly 
free they must renounce their allegiance to the Crown. 
Thus, while others were vainly striving to devise expe- 
dients to avei't a war into which they were blindly drift- 
ing, Thomas Polk was preparing the stern and not easily 
governed people of his neighborhood for the clash of 
arms he saw to be inevitable. 

The colonists of North Carolina had always been in- 
tolerant and resentful of interference in their affaiivs. 
As early as 1751 Governor BiuTington complained : 
''They have always behaved insolently to their gov- 
ernors. Some they have driven out of the country ; at 
other times they have set up a government of their own 
choice, supported by men under arms." It was Corn- 
wallis's uucomfortal)le fortune during his invasion of 
North Carolina to have his headquarters in Charlotte, 
the county seat of that ''heady, high-minded" county of 
Mecklenburg, which he soon, and with very good reason, 
pronounced to be the " hornets' nest of North Carolina." ^ 
Whatever hope there might have been of bringing the 
hornets iu this nest to live peaceably with the repre- 
sentatives of British authority, was shattered by the 
guns of Lexington. Even the loyalists of New York, 
who were planning to bring about a better undej-staud- 
ing between the colonies and the Crown, then felt that 
almost the last hope of reconciliation had vanished. To 
the impetuous Mecklenbiu'gers the report of the battle 
of Lexington was a proclamation of the dissolution of 
the union of the colonies with Great Britain. 

1 Colonel Tarleton. in his "Memoirs," p. 159, says: "It was evident, 
and bad frequently been mentioned to the king's ofl&cers, tliat the coun- 
ties of Mecklenburg and Rohan were more hostile to England tlian any 
others in America."' 


Colonel Thomas Polk was a l)orn leader of men, and 
he was recognized as the master-spirit in the conimunity 
in which he lived. From the beginning of colonial dis^ 
turbances he had boldly advocated a policy of uncom- 
promising resistance to the encroachments of the British 
ministry. When the qnarrel in Massachusetts broke out 
into active hostilities, he was chosen, in his capacity as 
colonel of the county, to call a meeting of citizens at the 
county seat; and it was there, on May 20, 1775, that, in 
presence of representative men of the district, he read 
the paper known as the Mecklenburg Declaration,^ pro- 
claiming the freedom of Mecklenburg from the control 
of (Ireat Britain. This was a year before the signing of 
the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. 

News traveled slowly in those days. From the Revo- 
hition down to the summer of 1820, but one newspaper 
was published in North Carolina west of Raleigh. The 
Continental Congress, then sitting in Philadelphia, was 
not ready to take official notice of so bold an act as the 
Mecklenburg Declaration, set forth, as it had been, by a 
handful of niilitia-men in a remote corner of tlie Amer- 
ican settlements. Indeed, had the members of the Con- 
gress been unanimously in favor of independence, as at 
that time they certainly were not, it was manifestly ex- 
pedient, until concert of action could be assured, rather 
to curb and ignore than to encourage radical proceed- 
ings.2 Hence, it is not surprising that outside the county 
in which it originated the Mecklenburg Declaration was 
liardly known until forty years had passed away. It by 
no means follows, however, that the Declaration was not 
actually read at the time mentioned. Tliose who doubt 
its authenticity adnut that, eleven days after its promul- 

1 See Appendix to Chapter I. 

2 See Appendix to Chapter I. — .Tohii Adams's Letter. 


gatioii on May 20, 177."), t.lie men of Mecklenburg", at a 
formal meeting- called l\v Thomas Polk, adopted sundry 
radically i-e\'olutionary resolutions.' Yet it apjjears that, 
more than forty years later, neither Thomas Jefferson 
nor John Adams had ever even heard of these resolu- 
tions of May 31st. The British were better informed ; 
for, on the 30th of July in this same year (1775), Gov- 
ernor Martin wrote to the Colonial Secretary in London, 
that ^^ the resolves of the Committee of Mecklenburg-, 
which yom- lordship will find in the enclosed newspaper, 
surpass all the horrid and treasonable publications the 
inflammatory spirits of this continent have yet pro- 
duced." Again, on the Stli of August, when aboard the 
government cruiser, Governor Martin issued a procla- 
mation beginning with these words: 

Wltereas, I have seen a most infamous publication in the 
Cnpe Fear Mercury, importing to be resolves of a set of peo- 
ple styliag themselves a Committee of the Coiuity of Mecklen- 
burg, most traitorously declaring the entire dissolution of the 
laws, government, and constitution of this country, and set- 
ting up a system of rule and regulation repugnant to the 
laws and subversive of His Majesty's Government. 

Now, the perturbed and somewhat hysterical state of 
mind into whicdi the governor was thrown hy the doings 
of the men of Mecklenburg sufficiently proves that the 
revolutionary spirit was active and aggressive among 
them in this month of May, 1775. The added testimony 
of those who stood -w-ithin the sound of Thomas Polk's 
voice on May 20tli ought to set at rest all questions of 
the genuineness of the resolutions of that date.- 

Besides his connection with the Mecklenburg Declara- 
tion, Colonel Polk was actively engaged in the p^^blic 

1 See Bancroft's "History of the United States," 1886, vol. iv. p. 19C. 

2 See Appendix to Chapter I. 


measures of his district which had been rendered neces- 
sary by the revolt against the Crown. He was a member 
of the committee which on August 24, 1775, prepared a 
plan for securing the internal peace and safety of the 
province. A few months later he was appointed colonel 
of the second of two battalions of minute-men which 
were raised in the district of Salisbury imder a resolu- 
tion of the Council of the Province, and it was not long 
before he was called into the field. The Tories of South 
Carolina, encouraged by Sir William Campbell, the last 
of the royal governors of that colony, had enrolled them- 
selves under Fletcher, Cunningham, and other leaders, 
and, attacking' the forces under Colonel Williamson at 
Cambridge and at Ninety-Six, had compelled him to 
capitulate. In this emergency the Council of Safety 
ordered out General Richardson's brigade and Colonel 
William Thompson's regiment of rangers, and called 
upon the Wliigs of North Carolina to aid them in crush- 
ing the Royalists. The North Carolinians promptly 
responded : nine hundred men, under Colonels Polk, 
Rutherford, Martin, and Graham, marched into South 
Carolina, and in a severe engagement defeated the Roy- 

By the Provincial Congress, which met at Halifax on 
April 4, 1776, the State was placed on a war footing 
and the militia was regularly organized. With Thomas 
Polk as colonel and William Davidson as major, the 4th 
Regiment of Continental troops raised under this enact- 
ment marched, with other forces under Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Nash, to join the Army of the North under Wash- 
ington. Thomas Polk remained for three years under 
Washington's direct command, and participated in the 
battle of Brandywine and the hardships of Valley Forge. 
He was not present, hoAvever, at the bnttle of German- 


town, Itciiiu' ;it that time in coiiiiiiiUMl of tlu' escort dc- 
tailcd to g-imrtl and convoy the hea\y baggage of the 
army (some f^even liundi'ed wagons) to a place of safety 
at Betlileliem, Penii. Among the impedimenta of the 
train uere the bells of Pliiladdjiliia. including the fa- 
mous " Liberty Bell." 

In November, 1779, tlie North Carolina troops were 
sent to reinforce the southern army, mider the com- 
mand of General Liucoln,i and, excepting Polk's regi- 
ment, were included in the gamson at Charleston. 

After the fall of the cai)ital f)f South Carolina in May, 
1780, the organization of an army for the general defense 
of the southern States was entnisted by Congress to 
General Gates. As in all armies, so especially in this, 
the most pressing want was an efficient commissariat. 
During his ill-judged and ill-timed march through a 
barren country to Camden, where he more than suf- 
ficiently tested the ability of his men to march and to 
fight without food, Gates sought out Thomas Polk, and, 
through Thomas Pinckne}-, the aide of Baron de Kalb, 
offered him, August 3d, the double position of Commis- 
sary-General for the State and Commissary- of Purchase 
for the army.- This offer Polk accepted, but almost be- 
fore the ink was diy up(m his letter of acceptance Gates 
aiTived at Charlotte in hot haste from the field of Cam- 
den, and without so much as a corporal's guard. Char- 

1 Extracts from '-XMieeler's Reminiscences of North Carolina."' from 
the archives at Raleiffh and the Moravian Records at Bethlehem, Penn., 
relative to Thomas Polk's services in the Revolution, reach nearly to the 
period of Gates's administration of the Southern Department. WTieeler's 
statements concerning this later period are evidently incorrect. See tlie 
" Papers of Major-General Gates " in possession of the New York Histor- 
ical Society, the " Papers of Major-General Greene " in possession of 
George W. Greene, of Rhode Island, and the collection of Dr. Thos. Addis 
Emmet. New York City. 

2 '• Gates Papers." Doc. 132, vol. xvii. 


lotte was a point of some strategic importance. It Ava.s 
the center of one of the best provisioned districts of the 
country, and the peoj)le were generally loyal to the col- 
onists. It was natural, therefore, to suppose that the 
general would halt there, and endeavor to organize at 
least a show of resistance to the enemy. Such a course 
would have strengthened the Continental cause, and 
would certainly have increased the influence of dates ; 
but with scarcely more than a moment's pause he aban- 
doned Charlotte and hurried across the State to Hills- 
boro, where the seat of State government then was. 

The effect of the defeat at Camden was deplorable ; 
and when the people of Charlotte saw the general who 
had been sent to them hy Congress flying even before 
the enemy had approached, their dissatisfaction and 
disgust were loudly expressed. But their spirit was not 
l)i-oken, and even after the defeat and dispersion of 
Sumter's comnuind, which occurred below Charlotte two 
days after the defeat at Camden, they were still resolute 
and ready to resume the conflict. 

The confusion and distress at Charlotte in this critical 
juncture are well described in Ramsay's "History of 
South Carolina." The British were hourly expected. 
The proclanuition fulminated by Cornwallis at Waxhaw 
on September 16th against the patriots of South Caro- 
lina, supported as it was by the well-known violence of 
his soldiery, convinced the people that they could assure 
their safety only by submission or flight, and among 
those who fled was the family of Thomas Polk. The 
men of Mecklenburg, supported by the militia from the 
counties of Rowan, Lincoln, Surrey, and Wilkes, pre- 
pared for a contest with Lord Cornwallis's well-appointed 
army of regulars. 

On September 2Gth Cornwallis entered Charlotte, and 


made his headquarters at the White House, as Colonel 
Polk's dwelling, the only painted edifice in the towm, was 
called ; and one of the first acts of the general was to 
seize and confiscate all of the property of his involuntary 
host that coidd be found. Polk, meanwhile, was actively 
engaged in se(!uring supplies for the American army, 
often ])y the pledge of his own credit. It was no easy 
task, but he lost neither faith nor courage ; and at the 
first glimpse of good fortune — Khig's Mountain — he 
wrote as follows to the B(^ai'd of War: 

Camp, Yadkin River, October 11, 1780. 
Gentlemen : I have the pleasure to infonn you that on Sat- 
urday last the noted Colonel Ferguson with 150 men fell on 
King's Mountain ; 800 taken prisoners, and 1500 stand of 
arms. Cleaveland and Campbell commanded. A glorious 
affair. In a few daj'S we will be in Charlotte, and I will take 
possession of my house, and his lordship take the woods. ^ 
I am, gentlemen, with respect, 

Youi" humV>le servant, 

Thos. Polk. 
To the Board of War, Hillsboro. 

To his duties as commissary Thomas Polk voluntarily 
added those of recruiting officer. Riding from house to 
house throughout the counties of western Xorth and 
South Carolina, he gathered provisions and preaehed a 
crusade against the British. Xo one in all that region 
did more to re\dve the drooping spirits of the Whig col- 
onists, and no one sent so large a number of recruits, 
either to Sumter's command or to the regular forces 
serWng with General Greene. His spiiit is shown in a 
letter to General Greene, dated March 1, 1781, and writ- 
ten from Charlotte at the most trying period of the war 
in the South. Greene had been driven into Virginia; 
tlie Carolinas lay at the nioi-ey of CoruwalHs. Tarleton, 


and Rawdon ; prominent men in both of the Carolinas 
had despaired of the snccess of the colonists, and were 
accepting protection, with all that the act involved, from 
the British anthorities. It was then that Polk, reporting 
the state of affairs abont Charlotte and the details of his 
own work, wrote : 

I received youi-s of the 16th on Saturday the 24th, and am 
much distressed at your being- obliged to retreat as soon as 
you have. But it certainly is the salvation of our country 
for you not to run any risks with your army. For while you 
are safe the British cannot occupy nor possess any part of our 
country but what is inside of their sentries or lines. 

General Greene wished to avail himself of Polk's ser- 
vices in the field, and on the death of General Davidson 
of the Salisbury district, who was killed at Cowan's 
Ford, the field-officers of the district having requested 
that Polk should be appointed to command them,^ 
Greene sent him a commission couched in words which 
bear full testimony to his confidence in the man : 

Reposing- special trust in your wisdom, patriotism, and 
valor, I do hereby appoint you, agreeable to the field-officers 
of Salisbury district, and by virtue of powers lodged in my 
hands for the time being, Brigadier-Genei'al of the said dis- 
trict and commanding of&cer of all the militia in the same. 

In consideration of the claims of Colonel Locke, an 
officer of the district, this commission was not confirmed 

1 A petition of the field-officers of the Disti-ict of Salisbury, now in 
service. To General Geeene. 

Sir: We, the snhsoribers. considering the critical situation of our 
roiintry, and the difficulties our District have labored under for want 
of a commanding officer since the fall of General Davidson, do offer thi.s 
our humble petition that another be appointed in his room. And as we 
repose special confidence in Col. Thomas Polk, of Mecklenburg County, 


by the Assembly/ but General Greene continued to ur^e 
it upon them and upon Governor Nash, and afterward 
upon Governor Burke, who succeeded Nash. In reply 
to a letter from Greene, dated August 5, 1781, requesting 
Polk's appointment, Governor Burke wrote as foUows, 
under date of August 15 : 

I am sensible tliat the commandant of that district [Salis- 
bury] is a very important office, and requires a character such 
as you describe, firm, active, having the art of compelling 
others to do their duty, and were I at liberty to make an ap- 
pointment pursuant to my own judgment, I should not hesi- 
tate on choosing the gentleman you mention, him 
possessed of knowledge, experience, and industry beyond any 
officer I know in the district. But this is an affair that re- 

as a gentleman qualified for such an important trust, it is our request 
that he be appointed to take the command of the above district. 

Your compliance with this our request will lay under lasting obliga- 
tions your humble petitioners, 

Jos. Dickson, Col. 

Jas. Maktlk, Col. 

Jos. W^iLLiAMs. Lieuf.-Col. 

John PeASL ' ) [These two names are incom- 
JOg_ ; \ plete, the MS. being torn. ] 

Camp Sheroes. Marcli ."). 1781. 

1 The militia of the Salisburj- District, under General Da\ndson. had 
done excellent service, and General Greene had a right to expect that 
this service would be continued under Polk, and that he would join 
liim in the pursuit of CornwaUis after the battle of Guilford, all of which 
lie wrote Polk JIarch 22d. But the Assembly would not confirm the 
appointment as made by Greene, sending Polk instead that of " Colonel 
Commandant." Polk returned this commission to Governor Nash, hav- 
ing called his attention to the fact that it was proper he should have the 
same rank as his predecessor, especially as Davidson had been Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel in the regiment of the line of which he. Polk, had been Col- 
onel. Pending the settlement of this question, Polk at first declined to 
act, but later, after an interview with General Greene, he assumed the 
duties of t!ie position. ^leanwliile. many of the men had joined Sum- 
ter's command (some l.')0 being in the 4th South Carolina, his son's regi- 
ment) and the others were widely scattered. By the middle of May. 


quires to be attentively surveyed with the eye of wisdom and 

Governor Burke's reason for not feeling himself at 
liberty to make the appointment is given in a letter to 
General Butler, dated August 15, 1781 : 

Sir: I have tliis morning received a letter from General 
Greene, dated on the High HiUs of Santee, August 2d, and 
another on the 5th. In both he expresses great surprise and 
uneasiness that Colonel Locke has not marched the militia 
direct from Salisbury to reinforce the southern army. He 
very strenuously urges the necessity of the reinforcement for 
enabling him to oppose the enemy and check their operations, 
should they move up to establish posts of communication on 
the Congaree and the Wateree rivers, which plan he believes 
they have in contemplation . In the letter of the 5th he says 
that by intelligence from Charlotte he learns that the militia 
who were called out in Salisbury District have been disbanded 
over the road as low as the Waxha.w, and are now returning 
to their respective homes without any officer to collect and 
bring them on. He very plainly suggests a want of militaiy 
competency in Colonel Locke, and his wish that Colonel Polk, 
whom he believes possessed of talents more useful for the 

however, he succeeded in getting the command ready for field service, 
but he was then relieved. This fact he reports to General Greene in the 
following letter : 

" Salisbury, May 15, 1781. 
'^ Sir : An express arrived at Salisbury the loth from Governor Nash, 
giving Colonel Locke the command, thei-efore my orders will be no 
more obeyed. I have been to all the counties but those over the moun- 
tains, Surrey and Gifford. Tlie new arms and accoutrements will be 
nearly ready in about eight days. The ammunition in the wagons at 
this place must furnish the men. Anything in my power is at your caU. 
"I am, sir, with great esteem, 

"Your humble scr., 

" Thos. Polk. 
" To Major- General Greene." 

1 "Letter Book," 1774-1781. Governor's Oflice. Raleigh, N. C. 


present occasion, should bo appointed to the command of the 
district. The superseding an officer of Colonel Locke's rank 
without inquiry or trial might prove an act fi-om which 
might result very troublesome consequences ; but to leave af- 
fairs of such importance, at such a crisis, under management 
which has hitherto been so unsuccessful, is entirely inadmis- 
sible. I nuist therefore, thoixgh very unwilling to put upon 
you an arduous or disagreeable service, or to spare your ser- 
vices from other important operations, request you, as soon 
as possible, to take the command of the whole force which has 
been called out for reinforcing the southern army, and to 
march them with all dispatch to join General Greene.^ 

At last the tide of war reeeded to the low countries of 
South Carolina, and peace soon followed. The people of 
the scattered American colonies were left to form their 
new governments and repair the ravages of war. To 
these tasks Thomas Polk now turned with characteristic 
energy, l;)ut his later life offers few incidents of interest. 
The last historic notice of him is found in Elkanah Wat- 
son's "Men and Times of the Revolution." On page 
259 he says : '' I carried letters to the court(H)us General 
Polk, and remained two days at his residence in the 
dehghtful society of his charming family." He lived to 
an honored old age, surrounded by his sons, whom he 
had reared to an honoral)l(! and self-reliant manhood. 
He died at Charlotte in 1793, and was l)r.ried in the Pres- 
byterian chin-chyard. 

For fifty years the name of Thomas I'olk remained, as 
he liad left it, free from reproach. Then Mr. Lossing, 
when gathering material for his "Field-Book of the Rev- 
olution," visited Charlotte, and was told by a Mr. Cald- 
well that Thomas Polk had taken "protection" from 
Lord CornwalHs. This statenu-nt, if it had been true, 

1 •■ Letter Book," 1774-1781. Governor's Office. Raleigh. N. C. 

1793] A mSTOMIAN'S ERBOB. 10 

would ini2)ly tliat P<»lk liad romaiiied in Chai'lotte dur- 
ing its occupation by the British, and that he had made 
liis submission and secured protection for his person and 
property. Finding among the " Gates Papers," in the 
New York Historical Society collection, a letter to the 
State Board of War, dated November 12, 1780, which in- 
timated that Thomas Polk's conduct was considered sus- 
liicious, Mr. Lossing accepted it as a sufficient proof of 
Caldwell's statement, and pabhshed it as such. 

Bishop Leonidas Polk, grandson of Thomas Polk, 
wrote Mr. Lossing of his mistake, and received in reply 
a prompt and courteous acknowledgment of the error. 
The correspondence is given below. 

Bishop Polk to Mr. Lossing. 

May 20, 1854. 
Mr. B. J. Lossing : 

Bear Sir : A friend yesterday called my attention to the fol- 
lowing on page 625, 1st vol. of your " Pictorial Field-Book of 
the Revolution," to wit : '^ Hundreds who were stanch patriots 
came forward and accepted protection from CornwaUls, for 
they saw no other alternative but that and the ruin of their 
families. Among them was Colonel Thomas Polk, who there- 
by incurred the suspicions of his countrymen," etc. 

As a descendant of the individual here mentioned, you wiU, 
I presume, recognize my right to ask you to furnish me the 
evidence upon which you here state that Colonel Thomas 
Polk " took protection" from CornwaUis. 

I observe what is said in the note upon the same page as 
to tlie order issued by Gates, and said to be found in the 
archives of the New York Historical Society, of the motives 
leading to which I have some knowledge, but you will per- 
ceive the insinuations contained in that order do not cover 
the ground occupied by yom' statements. 

Your reply will oblige, 

Leonidas Polk. 


Mr. Lossing to Bishop I'olk. 

POUGHKEEPSIE, N. Y., June 12, 1854. 
Rt. Rev. Leonidas Polk : 

My dear Sir : On my return home, after a short absence, I 
found your letter of the 20th May, forwarded to me by Messrs. 
Harper & Bros. 

I had ah-eady received letters from North Carohna on the 
subject refeiTed to in youi's, in which are ample proofs that 
the inference in the paragraph alluded to is not wairanted by 
real facts, however much it appears to be sustained by the 
order signed by Gates, Huger, Jones, and Butler. The verbal 
infonnation which I received on the subject was given me by 
Greene W. Caldwell, Esq., the present superintendent of the 
branch mint at Charlotte, when I visited that town early in 
1849. From information that I have since received from Gov- 
ernor Swain of Chapel Hill, Governor Graham, and two or 
three other citizens of Mecklenburg County, I am convinced 
that Mr. Caldwell was mistaken in the man, it being conceded 
that Colonel Ezekiel Polki did take protection from Cornwal- 
lis, while Colonel Thomas Polk appears to have been made of 
steiTier stuff. I felt thankful to those gentlemen, and I now 
feel grateful to you, for calling my attention to the evident 
error, for I am extremely anxious to have my work a faithful 
record in every particular, even the most minute, and I feel 
the obligation, above every other, to uphold in its lofty integ- 
rity the character of every true patriot dm'ing that struggle, 
for they are the great exemplars for those who are yet to fight 
the battles of freedom in the Old World. 

I had already made the proper correction of the en'or and 
injustice, in preparing my work for a new edition, when the 
disastrous conflagration of Harper's estabUshment occurred. 

1 "Taking protection." — which in Thomas Polk, an officer of the army, 
would have been desertion, — iu Ezekiel Polk, an old man and a non-cora- 
hatant, was simply the act of a private citizen, done to save a helpless 
family from ruin and want. Far less provocation had forced hundreds 
of the Lest patriots of South Carolina into a similar step.— Bancroft, 
vol. vi., p. 286-288. 

1758] THE ''GATES PAPERS:' 21 

Every sheet unsold was then consumed. They have now got 
their new buildings advanced far toward completion, and we 
hope, early in the autumn, to issue a new edition. 

You mention that you possess a knowledge of the motives 
which led to the orders of Gates and others. Will you have 
the kindness to communicate them to me, as eai-ly as your con- 
venience wiU permit after the receipt of this ? The order al- 
luded to I copied from the original with the signatures, now 
among the '' Gates Papers" in the New York Historical Soci- 
ety collections. 

I am a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and 
therefore I may subscribe myself your brother in the bonds 
of Christian fellowship, and a friend. 

With sentiments of highest regard, 

Faithfully and truly, 

Benson J. Lossing.i 

William, the eldest son of Thomas and the father of 
Leonidas Polk, was born on the 9tli of Jnly, 1758, near 
the town of Charlotte, in the connty of Mecklenbni-g. 
At school, according to his own modest account, he 
showed no great aptitude for learning, Init rather a 
disposition for mischief, which frequently led him into 

1 Notvntb standing the explicitness of Mr. Lossing's retraction, it may- 
be well to state the facts and to cite the documents bearing on the error 
into which he fell. 

Among the " Gates Papers " in the New York Historical Society is one 
dated November 12, 1780, signed by Generals Gates, Huger. Butler, and 
Cadwalader Jones. In this paper, which is addressed to the North Caro- 
lina Board of War, they charge that the conduct of Colonel Polk is sus- 
picious, and they recommend that he be ordered to Salisbury to answer 
for his condiict. No specifications accompany this charge, so that any 
one failing to look carefully thi-ough the " Gates Papers," and accepting 
Caldwell's statement as fact, might infer, as did Mr. Lossing, that the one 
bore upon the other. The denials of Governors Swain and Graham and 
of the citizens of Mecklenburg convinced Blr. Lossing that the charge did 
not relate to " taking protection," and the numerous letters to and from 
Thomas Polk dealing with the details of his duties as an officer of the 
army, to be found in the papers of Major-General Gates and Major-Gen. 


childish trouble. At the ag'e oi' fourteen he Avent to a 
grannuai' sehool, aud was at'terwai'd entei-ed at Queen's 
College, wlien^ he remained until the beginning of hos- 
tilities between the colonies and Great Bntain. The 
war fever of the eonung Kevoluti<ui early developed in 
him the military spirit which was hereditary in his fam- 
ily, and l)efore he was quite seventeen Ik; threw aside 
his books to take up the sword in the cause of the colo- 
nies. In April, 1775, — that is, in the m(^nth immediately 
preceding that in which his father read the Mecklenburg 
Declaration from the court-house steps, — and while still 
a student in college, William Polk was appointed a sec- 
ond lieutenant and was assigned to the 3d South Caro- 
lina Regiment nnder the command of Colonel Will- 
iam Thompson, better known by his sobriquet of "Old 

eral Greene, together with the estimate placed upon the man hy Governor 
Burke and General Greene at the very close of the war, are conclusive 
evidences of Polk's unswerving devotion to the cause of the colonists. 
The specifications of the charge are easily found by looking into the let- 
ters of Smallwood and Gates, in the same collection as the charge, and 
hy refen-iug to the records of the State Board of War. in the library at 
Raleigh, N. C. 

Owing to the ravages, first of Comwallis, then of the militia that op- 
posed him, around Charlotte, the entire country in that quarter of North 
and South Carolina was well-nigh stripped of provisions and forage. 
This is shown in Polk's correspondence with the Board of War, with 
Gates and with Greene (see Records at Raleigh, '• Gates Papers " and 
"Greene Papers"), and is more than emphasized in Greene's letters to 
Washington, to Knox, and to the Continental Congress (see Appendix to 
"Life of General Greene," by G. W. Greene). In consequence of this 
scarcity Polk could not find sufficient subsistence for the few regular 
ti-oops in that region, and much less for the militia, which was mainly 
concentrated at New Providence, under Smallwood, and at Salisburj', 
under Butler and -Jones. 

In making a report of his condition to General Gates and to the State 
Board of War. Smallwood, on October 31st, wrote to Gates: 

" Since my last, nothing material has occun-ed except a great scarcity 
of provisions. Colonel Polk has not even suppUed the regular troops ; 
our principal subsistence has been brought in by detachments, which they 
took from the disaffected who have gone over to the enemy, and I li.ave 

1775] ''OLD COLONEL DANGER:' 23 

Colonel Danger." The second company, to which young 
Polk belonged, was composed of North Carolinians and 
►South Carolinians in nearly equal numbers. Less than a 
month after the officers had received their commissions 
it was recruited to its full strength, and, with another 
company of the same regiment, was at once ordered to 
Ninety-Six to keep the Tories of that neighborhood in 
check. In Jmie these two companies were sent to Dor- 
chester, twenty miles from Charleston, and in August, 
1775, they were ordered to join the regiment at Grranby 
on the Congaree River. Theii* duty there was to w^atch 
and keep down the Loyahsts living in the Orangeburg 
District and near the Broad and Saluda rivers. Lieuten- 
ant Polk, who had become a favorite with " Old Danger," 
Avas given connnand of several expeditions, in one of 

now not less than two hundred men employed on that duty, which is the 
only prospect of supplying the troops till the late Provision Act for col- 
lecting a specific tax in provision is more effectually earned into execu- 
tion, which I fear at last will not afford an ample supply, in addition to 
what purchases can be made."' — " Gates Papers," Doc. 198. 

To the Board he wrote more specifically : 

" Colonel Polk refuses to supply any but the regular troops, and is un- 
willing to be concerned under the Act for levying the specific provision 
tax unless he has the appointment of the commissioners with whom he is 
to be connected, urging that those appointed under the Act are incom- 
petent to the task, and that there will be great difficulty in settling 
their accounts, which may eventually involve him." — "Gates Papers," 
Doc. 198. 

This information reached Gates on his march to Salisbury. An-iving 
at Salisbury, he, with his three officers, made the charge against Polk to 
the Board of War, as stated (Nov. 12th), and the next day Gates wrote 
Smallwood. in answer to the latter's letter of October :51st: 

"A Board of general officers, who yesterday morning met at my quar- 
ters, have given it as their unanimous opinion that Colonel Polk should 
be immediately obliged to answer for his conduct. ... I am astonished 
at what you mention in regard to Colonel Polk's refusing to supply the 
Continental troops with provisions." — "Gates Letter Book," Doc. 155. 

On receiving this letter, Smallwood replied, November 16th : 

"You must either have mistaken my letter, or there was an error 
made in transcribing with respect to Colonel Polk's refusing to supply the 


which he was so fortunate as to surprise and capture 
Colonel Fletcher, a noted South Carolina Tory leader. 

Colonel Williamson, who was opei-ating in the same 
neighborhood, had been ordered to take a portion of his 
regiment and disperse a camp of Loyalists then form- 
ing on the Saluda. In this he was unsuccessful, and he 
was compelled, about the fii-st of December, 1775, to fall 
back and occupy the court-house and jail at Ninety-Six. 
iVi'ound these buildings Williamson erected a stockade, 
in wliich he was besieged by the Tories for ten or twelve 
days, until the garrison was relieved and the siege raised 
by the approach of Thompson's regunent and the North 
and South Carolina militia under the command of Brig- 
adier-General Eichard Richardson. The Loyalists, num- 

Continental troops, wliich I could not have been justified in saying; and 
from the original it will appear that provision was so scarce that they 
had suffered by his not fully supplying them, which at that time was 
really the case both \x\ih. them and the militia. But to prevent any mis- 
understanding have enclosed you such extracts from my letters of the 
31st ulto. to you and the Board of War, as respects his conduct, and in 
justice to him the army here since has been better supplied, and I only 
then thought him WTong in refusing to supply the militia, and to super- 
intend and spur on the commissioners in their duty, — finding at the time 
the army suffered, it was much owing to the corn being too green to be 
gathered or ground in any quantity." — " Gates Papers," Doe. 198. 

On November IGth Polk reported himself at headquarters. The result 
may be gathered from a letter from Gates to the Board of War: 

" Salisbury, 17th November, 1780. 
"Sirs: Colonel Polk arrived here yesterday. 1 showed him General 
Smallwood's letter complaining of his not supplying provisions even to 
the Continental troops. I acquainted him, also, that his conduct was 
deemed doubtful and suspicious, and requested to know if I might de- 
pend upon his continuing to act as commissary to the troops. He said, 
since he found his countrymen suspected his fidelity, he would no longer 
act as commissary than until he had delivered 500 beeves and 1000 
bushels of com. which he had now collecting ; when that was done he 
desired it might be understood he resigned his office. Enclosed you have 
his letters to that effect,— what is now to be done?"— "Gates Letter 
Book," Doc. 164. 


bering about four huudred, fell ])ack on Reedy River, 
where tliey were surprised on December 22, 1775, by a 
detachment under Colonel Thompson, and, with a few 
exceptions, were made prisoners. Colonel Thompson, 
learning: after the capture that a Captain York with 
a detail of thirty men had left the Loyalist camp on 
the preceding day for the purpose of procuring pro^d- 
sions, sent Polk with thirty men of his regiment and a 
number of volunteer militia to intercept York on his 
return. In the evening of the same day York and all 
his party, with the exception of two who were better 
mounted than their comrades, were sui'prised and made 
prisoners. Polk, with William Henderson (who after- 
ward succeeded Sumter in the command of the South 
Carolina State Brigade), gave chase to the fugitives, and 

This correspondence fully explains the natiu-e of the charare against 
Thomas Polk, and Smallwood's letter of November 16th is virtually its 
retraction. It is clear that Gates, even before the receipt of this second 
letter from Smallwood, was willing to accept Polk's explanations and con- 
tinue him in ofiice ; but the completion of the vindication came in the 
refusal of the Board to accept his resignation, and in General Greene's 
desire to retain him as the commissary for his forces. (See "Greene 
Papers.") Polk retained the ofiice of district commissary, but relin- 
quished that of commissary of the forces in the field in favor of Major 
William Davie, whom he warmly recommended to General Greene. 

The new commander reached Charlotte on the 2d of December, and 
spent his first night with Thomas Polk, .studying the condition of affairs. 
Polk's comment upon the interview being this : " By the following morn- 
ing Greene better understood the resources of the country than Gates 
had done during the whole period of his command." — W^aTson's "Men 
and Times of the Revolution," p. 259. 

Of Polk's constant use of his own credit in the purchase of supplies 
for the army under Gates, and his continued efforts to assist that under 
Greene, his letters to General Greene of January 14 and March 1, 1781, 
give ample proof . (See " Greene Papers.") He writes: " For want of cash 
to comply with my fonner contracts for provisions, I am under the un- 
usual as well as disagreeable necessity of being personally dunned. Upon 
receiving Major-General Gates's appointment he assured me of always 
being sufficiently supplied with money to answer the purposes of my ap- 
pointment, upon which promise I advanced my own money, and exerted 


ill the struggle which ensued Polk was shot through 
the left shoulder. A dangerous wound at any time, it 
became doubly so from exposure, fatigue, and cold. 
With more than a foot of snoAV on the ground, he was 
carried one hundi*ed and forty miles to his father's 
house, Avhere he was confined to his Ijed for ten mouths. 
On the 26th of Novenibei-, 1776, he was chosen by the 
Provincial Congress of his State to be major of the 9tli 
Regiment of the North Carolina troops, raised on the 
Continental establishment, and joined his regiment at 
Halifax in March, 1777. The colonel and lieutenant- 
colonel being detailed for other duties. Major Polk, in 
liis eighteenth year, took command of the regiment, and 
marched it, %vith the Third Division of the North Caro- 
lina line, into the Jerseys to join the army of Washing- 
ton, which was on the march to meet General Howe at 
the headwaters of the Elk. 

Major Polk was in the battles of Brandy ^\•ine and 
Germantown. Near the close of the latter action, Octo- 
ber 4, 1777, he was shot in the mouth whilst in the act 
of giving command. The ball ranged with the upper 
jaw and lodged nearly in a line with the ear, shattering 
the bone. In the same battle Ms brigade commander, 
General Francis Nash, was mort^dly wounded, and the 

my credit for the amount of at least eleven hundred thousand £ of pro- 
\-isions already delivered to the army. I received from General Gates 
two drafts on Maryland and Virginia for little more than three hun- 
dred thousand each, one only of which is yet answered or paid. After 
the other is paid the States will owe me about five hundred thousand £." 
(Continental money.) 

Finding the money could not be obtained, he wrote that he would sell 
some of his negroes and from his own pocket pay the public debt con- 
tracted through him. as he could not bear to be " dunned." Colonel Polk's 
independence and integrity of character, his incessant efforts to collect 
supplies, and his sei-vices in forwarding men and material to the army in 
the field, ai-e incidentally illustrated throughout the whole correspond- 
ence. (See '• Greene Papers.") 


parting between the yonng soldier and his d\'ing general 
was sorrowful indeed. " The last time I ever saw Gen- 
eral Nash," said Colonel Polk to a friend in 1826, " was 
on the battlefield of Germantown. He was being borne 
from the field on a litter. I had just been shot in the 
mouth and could not speak. I motioned to the bearers 
of the litter to stop. They did so, and I approached to 
offer my hand to Nash. He was blind and almost in 
syncope from loss of blood, but when he was told that 
William Polk was standing near him, so wounded that 
he could not speak, Nash held out his hand, and said, 
' Good-by, Polk. I am mortally wounded.' " 

In spite of his severe wound, young Polk remained 
near his command, and went into winter quarters with 
the army at Valley Forge. Thus, with his father, Thomas 
Polk, he had the honor to be one of the faithful guard of 
Continentals who clung to the fortunes of Washington 
through the want and the miser}^ of that dreadful winter. 
In March, 1778, the nine North Carolina regiments serving 
with Washington were so reduced in numl^er by deaths 
and by the expiration of short terms of enlistment, that 
the State legislature consolidated the nine into four, re- 
tiring the supernumerary offic(n-s by lot. It was William 
Polk's misfortune to be one of those who lost theii* com- 
mands in this way. But although thus temporarily 
retired, he was not inactive, and as soon as he had re- 
turned to the South, he engaged first in recruiting ser- 
vice and then in expeditions against the Tories and the 
British in South Carolina. It was during this service 
that he found himself associated with Andrew Jackson, 
and from this association sprang a friendship whieli 
lasted as long as the two lived. 

When General Gates took command of the southern 
army, Major Polk was placed upon the staff of Major- 

28 " THE IlOliNETS:' [1780 

General CasAvell, and was present with him at the disas- 
trous defeat at Camden. Finding himself near Gregory's 
brigade when the rout of the militia began, he rendered 
some service during the stand made by that part of the 
command, and finally, after the fall of Baron de Kalb, 
when the rout was complete and irretrievable, his knowl- 
edge of the country enabled him to guide the successful 
retreat of a considerable body of regidar and militia 
troops through the woods and by-ways. 

Caswell's command being virtually dispersed. Major 
Polk next sought service with the brave and wise Gen- 
eral William Da\adson, whose band of *' Hornets " so well 
carried on the good work begun at King's Mountain. 
After the retreat of Cornwallis from Charlotte, Polk was 
sent to General Gates, and afterward to Governor Thomas 
Jefferson of Virginia and to the Maiyland Council, to 
acquaint them with the deplorable condition of affairs 
about Charlotte and Salisbury, He was unsuccessful 
iu his appeal to the president of the Maiyland Council, 
but his mission to Jefferson was both pleasant and profit- 
able. The governor received and entertained him most 
cordially, and made him the bearer of assurances to Gen- 
eral Gates that Virginia would continue her efforts, so far 
as her resources permitted, to aid the southern army. 

In December, 1780, when Greene relieved Gates of the 
command of the army at Charlotte, he ordered William 
Polk to accompany and assist General Kosciusko in the 
important duty of selecting a camp for the army in the 
better provisioned regions watered by the Pedee. Dur- 
ing this expedition Polk's intimate association with Kos- 
ciusko inspired him with an affectionate admmition for 
the gallant Pole who fought so suecessf uUj^ for American 
independence, but failed so disastrously in his heroic 
effort to assert the independence of his own country. 


When the army had been estabhshed upon the Pedee, 
Major Pollv obtained permission to return to Charlotte 
to assist General Davidson in raising a command to be 
drawn from the militia of the counties of Mecklenburg, 
Rowan, Iredell, and Lincoln. Davidson was so far suc- 
cessful that, by the latter part of January, he was able 
to march with nearly eight hundred men to the relief of 
Morgan on his hurried retreat after the success at Cow- 
pens. As the British crossed the Catawba at Cowan's 
Ford, in eager pursuit of theu* flying foes, they were 
furiously attacked by the newly recruited force under 
Davidson. Cornwallis, who w^as leading the British in 
person, had his horse shot under him. Davidson, mor- 
tally wounded, fell into Polk's arms, who was riding by 
his side. At the fall of Davidson the militia scattered. 
Polk, gathering as many of them as he could, led them 
to Salem, and reported for service to General Pickens be- 
fore Greene crossed the Dan, skirmishing with the rear 
of Cornwallis's army, and afterward following Tarleton 
and the Royahst Colonel Pyle into the country of the 

Soon after the battle of Guilford Court House and the 
retreat of Cornwallis to Wilmington, Major Polk received 
his commission as lieutenant-colonel from Governor John 
Rutledge of South Carolina, and was ordered to raise a 
regiment of " swordsmen " and mounted infantry, to be 
called the 4tli Regiment of South Carolina Horse. With- 
in a month he had enlisted two thirds of the required 
number of men, and reported under orders to General 
Sumter, who was then operating in the country lying 
between the British posts of Camden and Ninety-Six. 
His first service with his new regiment was undertaken 
in conjunction with Colonel Wade Hampton. By a 
rapid nun-ch of sixty miles in seventeen hours they sm-- 


prised a British outpost at Friday's Ferry on the Con- 
^aree, killing twenty-seven of the enemy and burning 
the block-house in sight of the garrison at Fort Granby. 
He next joined Sumter at the siege of Orangeburg, and 
aided in the capture of that post. Then he was ordered 
to report to General Marion before Fort Mott ; but, as 
tlic Bi-itish garrison stationed there had surrendered on 
the day following the capture of Orangeburg, he arrived 
too late to participate in that success. Again following 
the fortunes of Sumter and Marion, after the battle of 
Eutaw, he took part in a descent upon Dorchester and 
the fortified position at Watboe Chui-ch, near Charleston, 
Lee and the two Hamptons l:»eing sent into the Neck, 
while Polk, Horry, and Malione were pushed do\^Ti to 
invest the works around Watboe. The bridges were 
burned and some river craft destroyed in Watboe Creek, 
but the position was too strong to be taken by a coup de 
main, and the investment of the works had to be post- 
poned until the arrival of the artillery. While the pa- 
triot troops were breakfasting, the British cavalry made 
a furious charge upon them, but was repulsed by the 
infantry, and driven bv the American cavalry to seek 
shelter under the guns of the fort. That night the Roy- 
alist troops abandoned the position. In the morning Lee 
and the two Hamptons started in pursuit and attacked 
them at Grimsly.^ 

General Simiter had faUen seriously ill, and the com- 
mand of his brigade had been taken by William Polk's 
early friend and companion in arms. Colonel Henderson. 
In the fight at Eutaw Springs the brigade was composed 
of Hampton's, jVIiddleton's, and Polk's regiments. These 
troops, in conjuuction with Lee's Legion, covered the 

1 This account of Polk's service with Sumter and Marion is from his 
own MS. 


advance of Greene's line of battle, and then took posi- 
tion on the left flank, directly opposite to the light in- 
fantry of Major Majoribanks, one of the best commands 
of the British force then in America. Tims, while the 
infantry of Lee's Legion was engaged (on the right of 
the covering body) with the 63d Regiment of British 
regnlars, the left, nnder Henderson, was exposed to a 
galling fire from Majoribanks, whose men were hidden 
behind the cover of a thicket. It was a severe trial for 
raw troops. Henderson wonld gladly have pnt an end 
to it by charging the British right wing, but his orders 
were to protect the American flank, and his men, ani- 
mated by his spirit, as brave men always are by the cour- 
age of a gallant leader, stood by him with unflinching 
firmness. Henderson was wounded. For a moment his 
men wavered ; but Hampton, the senior colonel, seconded 
by Polk and Middleton, soon succeeded in rallying them. 
Later in the battle. Coffin with his cavalry charged a 
party of Americans who were scattered among the Brit- 
ish tents. Greene ordered up the cavalry of "Light 
Horse Harry Lee's " Legion to meet the attack ; but 
Lee's charge, though gallantly made, was unsuccessful, 
and Coffin, pressing on, forced his way through the scat- 
tered Americans. At this moment Hampton, with Polk 
and Middleton, came up, and after an obstinate hand-to- 
hand fight forced the British cavalry back under cover 
of their guns.^ In one of the numerous hand-to-hand 
encounters of the day Polk's horse was shot dead and 
fell upon him, and a British soldier was in the very act 
of pinning him to the ground with the bayonet, when a 
timely sabre-stroke from one of his sergeants cut down 
his assailant and saved his life. As might have been 
expected in so desperately contested a battle, all the com- 

1 G. W. Greene's "Life of Greene." vol. iii, pp. 3'.l."), .'!0G, 401. 


iiiaiuls suffered heavy loss, and among the killed was 
William Polk's younger brother, Thomas, who was a lieu- 
tenant in his regiment. 

In his official report of the battle of Eutaw General 
Greene said : 

Lieutenant-Colonels Polk and Middleton were no less con- 
spicuous for their good conduct than their intrepidity, and the 
troops under their command gave a specimen of what may be 
expected from men natm-ally brave when imj^roved by proper 

The retreat of the British to Charleston left but little 
for the American cavalry to do beyond picket duty, 
skirmishing, and scouting, and in such service William 
Polk continued until peace was made and the army dis- 

Among the interesting incidents of William Polk's 
military career was an encounter with the gallant British 
dragoon Tarleton — then a mere lad like liimself — in his 
raid upon the Waxhaw; but beyond a few words of 
Andrew Jackson, relating a surprise of Polk and himself 
by British cavalry under the dashing young English- 
man, we have little knowledge of the circumstances of 
the meeting. It appears to have occurred upon an oc- 
casion when the British cavalry caught the "rebels" 
detiling tlu-ough a long lane bordered by high rail- 
fences. That good use was made of the opportunity is 
shown by the straits to which Jackson and Polk were 
put in order to make their escape, and may be inferred 
from Tarleton's well-kno^vn capacity as a commander of 
cavaliy. Though but a lad in years when he was first 
commissioned, Polk was a stalwart man, six feet four 
inches in height, and of great strength. Sabres were 
difficult to obtain in the American colonics, and his swoi-d 


was made for him from a scytlie-blade. Battles were 
not then fought, as now, at a distance of a mile or more 
from the enemy, and an officer's sword had not yet 
become a mere symbol of command. Polk was often 
engaged at the head of his troopers in hand-to-hand 
encounters with the enemy's cavalry. In one of these a 
sturdy British soldier singled him out and made a furi- 
ous assault upon him. For a time the issue was doubt- 
ful, but Polk, beating down his adversary's guard, struck 
the gallant fellow squarely upon the crown of his head 
and clove him abnost to the chin. 

In 1783, after the close of the war. Colonel Polk served 
his State and country in various capacities. He was 
appointed by the legislature of North Carolina surveyor- 
general of the Middle District, now in the State of Ten- 
nessee. He remained there until 1786, and was twice 
elected a member of the House of Commons, represent- 
ing Davidson County in that body. In 1787 he was 
elected to the General Assembly of North Carohna from 
his native county of Mecklenburg, which he continued 
to represent until he was nominated by Washington and 
confli-med by the Senate as supervisor of internal rev- 
enue for the district of North Carolina. This office he 
held for seventeen years, through the administrations of 
Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, and until the inter- 
nal-revenue laws were repealed. 

In 1789 Colonel Polk married Grizelda Gilchrist, 
daughter of a Scotch gentleman, and granddaughter 
of Robert Jones, a prominent lawyer of Halifax. Two 
children were born of this marriage. Mrs. Polk died in 
1799. Soon afterward Colonel Polk removed to the city 
of Raleigh, where, in 1801, he married Sarah, a daugh- 
ter of Colonel Philemon Hawkins, and a sister of the 
late governor of that name. Twelve children, one of 


whom was Leonidas Polk, were born of the second mar- 

In 1811 Colonel Polk was elected a director of the 
State Bank of North Carolina, and was chosen president 
by his colleagues. This oflice lie filled until 1819, when 
he resigned in order to devote more of his time and per- 
sonal attention to his estate in Tennessee, which com- 
prised an area of 100,000 acres. On the 25th of March, 
1812, he was appointed by President Madison, with the 
consent of the Senate, a brigadier-general in the army of 
the United States. This commission, much to his subse- 
quent regret, he declined on political grounds, thinking — 
eiToneously, as he afterward saw — that his position as a 
stanch and very prominent Federalist forbade his accept- 
ance of the flattering but weU-earned distinction from 
Mr. Madison's administration. 

When Lafayette returned to America in 1824 and 
made his memorable tour through the States, Colonel 
Polk was one of the commissioners appointed to do the 
honors of the State of North Carolina to his old comrade 
in arms. 

An eye-witness has left an amusing account of some 
incidents of the reception of Lafayette on Ms passage 
through North Carolina. Colonel William Polk had 
been requested by Governor Burton to provide a cavalry 
escort for the illustrious \asitor, and a troop of excel- 
lently di'illed and handsomely uniformed volunteers was 
formed from the militia of JMeeklenburg and Cabarrus 
counties. Colonel Polk, the govei*nor, and the cavalry 
escort, imder command of General Daniel, met Lafayette 
near the A^rginia line. There was much hand-shaking 
and speech-making. But, as the naiTator Avrites, " Lafa- 
yette spoke but little English, and understood less. He 
had retained a few phrases. Avhieh ho would utter, gener- 


ally in an effective manner, but sometimes ludicrously 
malapropos." '' Thanks ! My dear friend ! Great coun- 
try ! Happy man ! Ah, I remember ! " were nearly his 
whole vocabulary. He was received at the borders of 
each State by appointed commissioners, and when he 
had been escorted through it he was safely delivered to 
the commissioners of the next commonwealth. At Hali- 
fax the cortege was met by General Daniel, who had 
stationed a company of soldiers by the roadside, flanked 
by the ladies who were assembled to do honor to the 
guest of the State. It had been arranged that the ladies 
were to wave theii* handkerchiefs as soon as Lafayette 
came in sight, and when General Daniel exclaimed, " Wel- 
come, Lafayette ! " the whole company was to repeat the 
welcome after him. Unluckil}^, the ladies, misunderstand- 
ing the programme, waited too long and were reminded 
of their duty by a stentorian command of, " Flirt, ladies, 
flirt ; flirt,^ I say ! " from the general as he walked down 
the line to meet the marquis. Equally misunderstanding 
their part, the soldiers, instead of shouting, " Welcome, 
Lafayette," in unison at the close of the general's address, 
repeated the sentence one by one, and in varying tones. 
Now a deep bass voice would exclaim, ''Welcome, Lafa- 
yette ! " Then perhaps the next man in a shrill tenor 
would squeak, *' Welcome, Lafayette ! " And so on down 
the line. Daniel, frantic at this burlesque of his order, 
vainly attempted to correct it ; but, as he unfortunately 
stammered when he was excited, his " Say it all to-to-to- 
geth-er ! " could not overtake the running fire of " Wel- 
come, Lafayette ! " which continued all along the line. 
*' Great country ! Great country ! " replied Lafayette, 
turning to Colonel Polk, who was vainly trying not to 
smile. Observing and recognizing an old acquaintance, 

1 Flirt = to wave. 


Lafayette greeted him with great effusion : "Ah, my 
dear friend — so ghid to see you once more ! Hope you 
have prospered and had good fortune these years." 

" Yes, General, yes ; but I have had the great misfort- 
une to lose my wife since I saw you." 

Catching only the "Yes, General," and the word 
"wife," Lafa^'ette supposed his friend was informing 
him of his marriage, and, patting him affectionately on 
the shoulder, he exclaimed, " Happy man ! Happy 
man ! " nor could he be made to understand that his 
observation was not a happy one. 

After replying to the address of welcome which had 
been delivered by Colonel Polk from the steps of the 
Capitol, Lafayette, with all the di-amatic action of a 
Frenchman, tui-ned to Polk, and before the old soldier 
knew what he was about, threw his arms around his 
neck and attempted to kiss him on the cheek. Colonel 
Polk straightened himself up to his full height of six 
feet four, and instinctively threw his head l)ack to escape 
the caress ; but Lafayette, who was a dapper little fellow, 
tiptoed and hung on to the gi'im giant, whOe a shout of 
laughter burst from the spectators and was with some 
difficulty turned into a cheer. 

Of Colonel William Polk's influence in the State of 
Tennessee Governor Swain of North Carolina has said : 
" lie was the contemporary and personal friend and as- 
sociate of Andrew Jackson, not less heroic in war, and 
quite as sagacious and more successful in ])rivate life. 
It is known that Colonel Polk greatly ad\anced the 
interests and enliaiiced tlie wealth of the hero of Xew 
Orleans by information furnished him from his field- 
notes as a surveyor and in directing Jackson in his 
selections of valuable tracts of land in the State of Ten- 
nessee : that to Samuel Polk, the father of the President, 


lie gave the agency of renting and selling- liis [William 
Polk'sj immense and valuable estate in lands in the most 
fertile section of that State; that, as first president of 
the Bank of North Carolina, he made Jacob Johnson, 
the father of President Andrew Johnson, its first porter, 
so that of the three native North Carolinians who en- 
tered the White Honse through the gates of Tennessee 
all are alike indebted for benefactions, and for promo- 
tion to a more favorable position in life, to the same in- 
dividual, William Polk — a man whose insight into char- 
acter rarely admitted of the selection, and never of the 
retention, of an unworthy agent." 

Colonel Polk died at his residence at Raleigh on Jan- 
uary 4, 1834, and was buried with military honors. An 
ardent member of the patriotic Order of the Cincinnati, 
he was the last surviving field-officer of the North Caro- 
lina line in the war for independence. 

Of the family life of Colonel William Polk only a few 
incidents have been preserved ; but in families, as in 
nations, the silences of history are often records of hap- 
piness, and the family life of William Polk was one of 
unbroken peace and happiness. The youth who led his 
regiment in battle at the age of eighteen, and who had 
fought with distinguished gallantry through a long war 
before he was five-and-twenty, was as loyal to his family 
and his friends in after-life as he had been to his coun- 
try. In society he was a generous host, a trusty friend, 
and a kindly neighbor. In politics he was earnest in 
his convictions, consistent in his conduct, and faithful to 
his associates. In pul^lic life he had repeated and long- 
continued proofs of the esteem of his fellow-citizens. It 
must be admitted that he was not a professedly religious 
man, but it is by no means im])ossible that luider an ap- 
pearance of indifference he may liave concealed more 


38 COLO}; EL I'OLKS MlLlTAliY SrilUT. [182U 

real reverence tliaii otliers avIio inade loud professions. 
In 1826 his son Leonidas returned on furlough from the 
academy at West Point, deeply impressed with relig- 
ious feelings and convictions. One evening the lad was 
seated on the porch conversing wath his friend of earlier 
and later years, Mam-ice Waddell, grandson of the Gen- 
eral Nash who fell at Germantown. Colonel Polk joined 
them and spoke -oath enthusiasm of the Mecklenburg 
Declaration and the Revolution, and of men like Nash, 
who had fought and died for the independence of their 
country. He reminded the boys that the revolutionary 
patriots were not only brave and chivalrous soldiers, but 
men of generous and noble principles, and counseled 
them to take those men as examples in all their conduct. 
The conversation was serious, almost solemn, and Leon- 
idas ventured to suggest that the principles of honor 
could only be strengthened and enforced by the princi- 
ples of religion. As soon, however, as that view of the 
subject was presented, the old soldier rose, and, without 
a word, left the porch. A year later, when Leonidas 
announced his intention to throw away all the advan- 
tages he had earned at West Point, to abandon a mili- 
tary career, and to exchange his uniform for a surplice, 
Colonel Polk was deeply disappointed. He could not 
understand the motive of such a resolve. To him the 
life of a soldier was the noblest life to which a gallant 
man could devote himself, and it had been his pride to 
think that Leonidas was destined to continue, and per- 
haps to add lustre to, the many military traditions of his 
family. He therefore used every influence, except that 
of positive command, to dissuade the young man from 
his purpose. When Leonidas did actually resign his 
commission to enter the theological seminary at Alex- 
audrin. his father, who was then in Washington, visiting 


his friend Andrew Jackson, the President-elect, could 
not refrain from pouring out his disappointment and 
vexation to his old comrade. About the same time he 
wrote to his son, "You are spoiling a good soldier to 
make a poor preacher ! " It might have soothed the 
feelings of the veteran if he could have known that 
Leonidas would one day buckle on the sword, that he 
would lead more men into the field than his father had 
ever seen arrayed in battle, and that he would die, at 
last, a soldier's death on the field of honor, fighting for 
what he deemed to be the cause of right and liberty. 


(See Thomas Polk, p. 9.) 

Joseph Seawell Jones, in his " Defense of the Revolutionary 
History of North Carohna," says: "Tradition ascribes to 
Thomas Polk, who had then been for a long time engaged in 
the service of the province as a surveyor and as a member of 
the Assembly, the principal agency in bringing about the 
Declaration. He appears to have given notice for the election 
of the convention, and, being a colonel of the county, to have 
supervised the election in each of the militia districts." 

The Rev. Humphrey Hunter, a soldier of the Revolution, 
passed his whole life, of seventy-three years, in Mecklenbiirg 
County, and was weU. known to its people. He was a few 
days over twenty years of age on that memorable 20th of 
May, 1775, and afterward bore witness that he was present 
at the meeting in front of the court -house, and then and there 
heard the Declaration read by Thomas Polk. A diary kept 
by 3Ir. Hunter contains the following account of the pro- 
ceedings : 

" Orders were issued by Colonel Thomas Polk to the several 
militia companies that two men, selected for each corps, 
should meet at the court-house on the 19th May, 1775, in 
order to consult with each other upon such measures as might 
be thought best to be pursued. 

"Accordingly, on said day, a far larger number than two 
out of each company were present. A certain number were 
selected and styled delegates. Abram Alexander was unani- 
mously elected chairman, John McKnitt Alexander and 
Ephraim Brevard were chosen secretaries. A fuU, free, and 
dispassionate discussion obtained on the various subjects for 



which, tlie meeting had been called, and certain resolutions, 
afterward embodied in the Mecklenburg- Declaration, were 
unanimously passed. By-laws and regulations for the govern- 
ment of a standing committee of public safety were then 
enacted. A select committee was then appointed to report 
on the ensuing day a corrected and formal draft of the resolu- 
tions adopted, and the delegates adjom-ned until the next day 
at noon. 

" On the 20th of May at twelve o'clock the delegates had 
convened. The select committee was present, and reported, 
agreeably to instructions, a formal draft of the Declaration of 
Independence, written by Ephraim Brevard, chairman of 
said committee, and read by him to the delegates. It was 
then announced from the chair, * Are you all agreed ?' There 
was not a dissenting voice. 

'* Finally the whole proceedings were read distinctly and 
audibly at the court-house door by Colonel Thomas Polk to 
a large, respectable, and approving assembly of citizens who 
were present and gave sanction to the business of the day. 

" During the reading of the Declaration all were still, every 
eye was fixed on the form, every ear open to the full, deep- 
toned voice of Colonel Polk. When he closed aU drew a 
long breath, each man looked into his neighbor's eyes and 
saw the fii-e gleaming there. A voice from the multitude 
called out, ' Three cheers ! ' and then went up such a shout 
as was never before heard in Mecklenburg. The deed was 
done ; these men had pledged all they had, lives, fortunes, 
honor ; and, true as steel, from that hour to this they have 
never shrunk. This was the first public Declaration of Inde- 
pendence in the British colonies. The people retui-ned to 
their homes and vocations, taught by their leaders to ex- 
pect trouble, and to be ready to answer their country's 
summons at a moment's warning." 

The Mecklenbui-g Declaration was first published, so as 
to reach the general reading public, in the lialeigh Begister 
of April 30, 1819, as a communication from Dr. Joseph 
McKnitt Alexander. Its genuineness has been disputed by 
persons not familiar with the local history of North Carohna 


Jm-ing the Revolution, but tlie testimony in the support of its 
authenticity would establish its claims before any court in 
which the rules of evidence are observed. 

Dr. Charles Caldwell, who went when a youth from Meck- 
lenbui-g to Philadelphia, where he won an enviable repu- 
tation both in his profession and as a citizen,^ pubhshed 
in 1812 his '' Memoirs of the Life and Campaign of General 
Greene in the War of the Revolution." In the appendix he 
gives in full the Mecklenburg Declaration of May 20, 1775, 
adding that he was Avell acquainted with Colonel Thomas 
Polk, and also the ehaii'man and secretaiy of the meeting 
that adopted the resolutions. It must be admitted that Dr. 
Caldwell knew, from daily intercourse with men who had 
fought in the war for independence, the striliing incidents 
which took place in that part of the country at a time im- 
mediately preceding, as well as those contemporaneous with, 
the great struggle. Ho declared there could be no doubt 
about the authenticity of the Declaration of May 20, 1775. 

Again, when the Declaration, as published in the Raleigh 
Register, was attacked as spurious by Thomas Jefferson and 
others who had never before heard of it. Colonel William 
Polk procured and commiuiicated to the Raleigh Register of 
February 18, 1820, the certificates of George Graham, 
Wilham Hutchison, Jonas Clark, and Robert Robinson, aU 
neighbors of his and men of the highest character, to the 
effect that tliey were all present at the meeting of May 19th 
and 20th, that on the last-named date resolutions were read 
which went to declare the people of Mecklenburg free and 
independent of the King of Great Britain. Moreover, the 
semi-centennial celebration of this remarkable Declaration 
was attended by sixty or seventy veterans of the Revolu- 
tionary War, men not apt to be duped by false stories on this 
point, nor indeed on any other connected with the war in 
that region. Of these same veterans, twenty-seven were 
present at the celebration of 1835. 

1 For much of the detail of this part of my work I am indebted to the 
able and logical address of Gov. W. A. Graham, delivered at Charlotte. 
N. C, May 20, 1775. 



1st. Resolved, That whosoever directly or indirectly abetted, or in any 
way, form, or manner countenanced the unchartered and dangerous in- 
vasion of our rights, as claimed by Great Britain, is an enemy to this 
country, to America, and to the inherent and inalienable rights of man. 

2d. Resolved, That we, the citizens of Mecklenburg County, do hereby 
dissolve the political bands which have connected us with the mother- 
country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British 
Crown, and abjure all political connection, contract, or association with 
that nation, who have wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties and 
inhumanly shed the blood of American patriots at Lexington. 

3d. Resolved, That we do hereby declare ourselves a free and indepen- 
dent people ; are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and self-governing 
Association, under the control of no power other than that of our God 
and the general government of the Congress ; to the maintenance of 
which independence we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual co- 
operation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred honor. 

4th. Resolved, That as we now acknowledge the existence and control 
of no law, or legal officer, civil or military, within this county, we do 
hereby ordain and adopt as a rvde of life, all, each, and every of our 
former laws, wherein, nevertheless, the Crown of Great Britain never 
can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority 

5th. Resolved, That it is further decreed, that all, each, and every mili- 
tary offtcer in this county, is hereby reinstated in his former command 
and authority, he acting conformably to these regulations. And that 
every member present, of this delegation, shall henceforth be a civil 
oflicer, viz., a Justice of the Peace, in the character of a " Committeeman," 
to issue process, hear and determine all matters of controversy, accord- 
ing to said adopted laws, and to preserve peace, union, and harmony in 
said county ; and to use every exertion to spread the love of country and 
lire of freedom throughout America, untU a more general and organized 
government be established in this province. 

The following letter from John Adams is of interest in this 

connection : 

MONTEZILLO, April 30, 1822. 

Hon. John Williajis, Senator of the U. S. from Tennessee. 

Si7': I pray you to accept my kind thanks for sending me 
the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Although 
these papers have been familiar to me for two or three years 


past, they are still an incomprehensible mystery. I can 
scarcely conceive it possible that such a transaction should 
have been concealed for so many years from the public. 
Had those resolutions been published at the time, they would 
have rolled and rebellowed through the Continent, from the 
Mississippi to the St. Lawrence, and would have been re- 
echoed from every part of Europe. There is but one hypothe- 
sis that has ever occuiTed to me for their suppression. Mr. 
Caswell was a stanch patriot; but he was recalled to take 
upon Mm the government of North CaroUna and the com- 
mand of their forces. Mr. Cooper was never cordial in the 
cause of the country, — and Mr. Hughes was for a long time 
wavering and undecided, though he at last came out in a style 
sufficiently unequivocal. These gentlemen were constantly 
assailed by the friends of the British Government, aided by 
the Quakers and proprietary gentlemen of Pennsylvania — 
and by them kept constantly quivering ; and, perhaps, per- 
suaded to suppress Resolutions which if they had been pub- 
lished would have had infinitely more influence in the world 
than Mr. Paine's " Common Sense," which came out so many 
months after. These were Resolutions of a verv' respectable 
body of native American citizens. '' Common Sense " was 
the production of a wandering fugitive adventiu*er. Though 
Mr. Jefferson believes these Resolutions to be fabrications, 
yet it is impossible not to believe, from the similarity of ex- 
pressions in his Declaration of Independence, that he had not 
heard those words repeated in conversation, though he had 
not seen the Resolutions in foi-m. 
I have the honor to be, sii'. 

Your obliged and humble servant, 

JoH^" Adams. 


1820 TO 1827. 

Leonidas Polk's early education. — Enters University of North Caro- 
lina. — A singer of patriotic songs. — An old-time celebration of the 
Fourth of July. — University life. — Enters the U. S. Military Academy at 
West Point. — His mode of life. — Love of justice. — Friendship with 
Albert Sidney Johnston. — Visit of General Scott and George Canning 
to West Point. — Major-General Gaines.— Internal working of the Acad- 
emy. — Appointment on the staff. — General Worth's war horse. — Lafa- 
yette's visit to West Point. — " A patch for old shirts." — Colonel Thayer. 

— A spying postmaster. — Debts. — Breach of regulations by the draw- 
ing class. — Appeal to the Secretary of War. — The Secretary's reply. — 
Conversion. — Chaplain Mcllvaine's influence. — The praying squad. — 
Religious condition of the Academy. — Polk's baptism. — Appointed 
orderly sergeant: a trying position. — Tells his father of his conver- 
sion. — Trials attending conversion. — Nightly meetings for worship. — 
Colonel Polk's feelings on his son's conversion. — Offered a professorship 
at Amherst CoUege. — Graduation. — Travels in New England and Canada. 

— Resigns commission. — Enters on study for the ministry. 

Very few anecdotes or incidents of the earliest years 
of the life of Leonidas Polk have been preserved. Like 
many other men of action, he appears to have been 
known as a high-spirited and healthy child, of whom the 
partiaUty of friends might hope mnch, but who gave 
no precocious indications of future distinction. At all 
events, when it has been said that he was the second 
son of the second marriage of William Polk, that he 
was born at Raleigh on the lOtli of April, 1806, that he 
leceived his earliest education in the academy of the 
Rev. Dr. McPheters in that city, and that he was remoiu- 



bored by his coiiteniporarios as a leader in the sports of 
their boyhood, all that is known of those years has been 

In 1821 he was entered at the University of North 
Carolina, Chapel Hill. At that time he w^as a handsome, 
well-grown lad, and somewhat famous, it appears, as a 
singer of patriotic; songs. The Hon. Kemp P. Battle, 
in a centenary address delivered at Raleigh, has recalled 
one of his triumphs as a vocalist. 

"The celeln-ation of the Fourth of July," he says, 
" filled so large a space in the minds of the people of 
that day that this address would be incomplete without 
an attempt to recall them. The day was ushered in by 
firing of cannon. There Avas a Federal salute, as it was 
called : one gun for each State in the Union. Then a 
procession was formed at the court-house and moved to 
the music of fife and drum to the Capitol Square. -There 
an ode was sung. Then the Declaration of Independence 
was read; then an ode; then came the oration, which 
was followed by an ode. These odes, sung with spirit, 
were far more soul-stirring than the music of brass 
bands in these days. At noon a good dinner was set. 
There were two tables, presided over by the President 
and Vice-President. Toasts were drunk, followed by 
speeches and conviAaal songs. A participant enables me 
to give an account of one of these scenes, which is a fair 
sample of all. Governor Holmes presided at one table, 
Colonel [William] Polk at the other. Three judges were 
appointed to decide which table furnished the best song 
and the best speech ; viz., Joseph Gales, the distinguished 
editor, Chief -Justice Taylor, and Judge Hall of the Su- 
preme Court. The favorite singer at Governor Holmes's 
table was one Reeder, a tinner, who had gallantly run 
' for his countrs-'s fame ' at Bladensburg. The champion 


of the other table was Leonidas Polk, son of the colonel, 
afterward the great missionary bishop of the Southwest, 
and later still the soldier-bishop who was killed at Kene- 
saw. On account of the vocal powers of the future 
bishop, the judges awarded the victory to the table of his 
father. The prize of victory was the j)rivilege of taking 
the occupants of both tables to the home of the victor 
and treating them to new viands. The crowd hurried 
tumultuously, singing and shouting, to the residence of 
Colonel Polk, following him, and dragging a cannon 
with them. An ample table was found spread for them ; 
new toasts were drunk, new songs were sung, the cannon, 
was fired, and, amid shouts and hurrahs for Colonel Polk 
and Independence, the patriots, with their bosoms too 
full for articulate utterance, meandered to their homes." 
One letter written during his student life at Chapel 
Hill has been preserved. It is of little importance, except 
in so far as it illustrates the strong family affection which 
existed between the members of the Polk family, the dash 
of frolicsome humor which always renuiined with him, 
and the amusing ceremoniousness which was blended 
with his expressions of affection. The letter was written 
to his sister Mary, then at school in the North, and sub- 
sequently the wife of Mr. George Badger, for many years 
United States Senator from North Carolina and Chief- 
Justice of the Supreme Court of the State. 

Chapel Hill, February 10, 1823. 
My dear Sister: On my arrival in this place I wrote you in 
answer to your letter received during my vacation, and en- 
closed it to Raleigh, thence to be forwarded to you. Know- 
ing your punctuality in answering letters, I cannot account 
for the delay you seem to express in replying to the above 
named. You have no conception of the pleasure I derive 
from the perusal of a letter from you, being so far distant 


from home and the peculiarity of your situation. My letter 
must have miscai'ried. 

I received a line from brother a few days since j he is 

adualhi to take a trip to Tennessee tliis coming- spring with 
my father, and there to remain, I presume, for no short space 
of time, judging from the nature of Pa's business in that 
much-talked-of State. He is the most anxious man to get 
married I have ever seen, but has not found any girl that 
strikes his fancy, or who has all that is reqiiisite to be the 
wife of a '* Polk," for I believe they are choice. The family 
are all Avell, and Hamilton has gone to Uncle Little's to school, 
the greatest blessing ever conferred on liim. We are all now 
from home who can possibly be spared from the nursery ex- 
cept the gentleman whom I have said has such an itching for 
a partner. 

I am at this moment about to go on a skating expedition; 
the ice on our pond is very thick, and last night there was a 
heavy fall of snow which still continues. It is nearly eight 
inches thick. This you will deem but a slight drift in com- 
parison to those wliich you have, but it is more than ice everj' 
day see. 

With the utmost respect and esteem. 

Your affectionate brother, 


When his second year at Chapel Hill Avas drawing to 
a close, Leonidas, to his gi*eat delight, received, through 
his father's influence, an appointment to a cadetship in 
the United States Military Academy at West Point, and 
he immediately addi-essed the following letter to liis 
father : 

Chapel Hill, March 10, 1823. 

Mrj dear Father: Yours announcing my appointment by 
the President as a cadet at West Point was duly and most 
cordially received. You can imagine but few things which 
would have more highly gi-atified me. Many and various 
thoughts floated across my mind, on seeing the direction of 

yEt. 17] COLLEGE LIFE. 49 

it. I not only liailed it with delight as the messenger bear- 
ing tidings of an appointment so long wished for, an ap- 
pointment which was to make so vast an alteration in my 
career in life (an agreeable change it is too), but I at once 
thought of the inexpressible joy of my sister on seeing me, 
and my truly exquisite pleasure in returning her embraces. 
You expressed in youi- letter a desu-e that I should instantly 
turn my attention to acquiring a knowledge of arithmetic 
sufficient to make me an acceptable candidate. You directed 
me also to continue with my class to recite Latin, and, if pos- 
sible, the rest of my studies, too ; learning arithmetic at the 
same time. My time would not permit me to attend to all 
these duties at once. We rise in the morning at half past 
five o'clock, then until eight are engaged in chapel duties 
and recitation. At eight we are summoned to breakfast — 
there is then an hour appropriated for that purpose; from 
nine until twelve we are preparing for and reciting our Greek 
lesson; until one we have for relaxation and exercise. We go 
to dinner at one, and commence at two to get our Latin les- 
son, are thus engaged until four, at which time we recite it ; 
remain at recitation until five, then repair to the chapel, hear 
pi'ayers, thence to supper. There is a vacation until eight 
P.M., at which time we reth-e to our rooms to prepare a geom- 
etry lesson to recite at seven the next morning. Our time is 
thus occupied during the week until Saturday, the evening of 
which we are entitled to, leaving b^^t very few spare hours 
to be devoted to exercise and reading. We have to show 
compositions every fortnight in the class, and they have to 
be wi'itteu during play hours. The society duties are to be 
attended to also weekly, which are of very great importance 
and require their portion of time. From this statement you 
will perceive it is utterly impossible to attend to anything 
else to the least advantage. To relinquish all but the Latin 
and to devote the rest of my time to other than college duties, 
the facility would not permit me. There have been instances 
of students being wholly irregular on the languages and 
studying English only, but never one where a student was 
partly irregular on them. So to neglect one of the languages 

50 COLLEGE LIFE. [1823 

I must neglect both. But there is not a class in college that 
is studying arithmetic, therefore I cannot study arithmetic 
and be a collegian. I am consequently unable to pursue the 
plan you desire me. My class will, the latter part of this 
week or the first of next, have read all the Latin they intend 
to read; they will then turn back to review. I have acquired 
a knowledge sufficient of Latin to enable me to construe most 
of the sentences with which 1 meet in reading, or at least to 
glean the author's meaning, and I could obtain but a little 
more by a review of my studies. In going to West Point I 
do not wish to leave this place unprepared to stand the most 
serutinous examination. I have passed half through this in- 
stitution, and am but imperfectly acquainted with most of 
the studies I have been prosecuting ; this ignorance is to be 
imputed to my being badly prepared on entering college. 
The evil has shown itself, and I will avoid it henceforth. Yet 
I am not satisfied with a mere knowledge sufficient to enable 
me to enter the Military Academy. I wish to obtain some- 
thing more. I am anxious to be acquainted with the Freuch 
language, in which most or all the studies are clothed in that 
school. It will be of vast advantage to me while there. It is 
a language which is becoming very generally spoken, more 
particularly in the best circles of society, and it is an attain- 
ment truly desirable. My acquaintance with the rudiments 
pre^dous to going there will ensure me a more perfect knowl- 
edge of it. I saw a letter from Henderson (a young man 
who left this place and went to the Point to school) to DaA-id 
Saunders, speaking of the different standings of several boys, 
and among them his own. He remarked that he held the 
third standing on French and the ninth on mathematics, 
which made his general standing sixth. It appears that each 
boy has a separate standing arranged according to their 
merit, and he holds the sixth in a class of a hundred, which 
is very good. His having studied French before going there 
entitled him to this high rank. Taking aU these things in 
consideration, father, seeing it is impossible to pursue the 
plan you have pointed out, and knowing the necessity of an 
acquaintance with the French, of which there is no teacher 


on the Hill, I have deemed it advisable, with your consent, 
to repair to Hillsborough, after withdrawing from college, 
there to study arithmetic, French and geography under Mr. 
Rogers, who is master of the French language. The expense 
will be nothing, as I have paid only for half the session's 
board, which will expire in a few days, and it will be neces- 
sary to have a "recruit," which will answer as well at HUls- 
borough as at this place. You mentioned in your letter that 
I woidd not leave home for the Point until after the Com- 
mencement at this place, which will not be untU the 7th or 
8th of June, and it is required that I should be there by the 
1st. It will be necessary for me then to leave by the middle 
of May, as I should like to remain in Philadelphia a few days 
with Mary. 

By granting the above requests you will very much oblige, 
Yoiu- obedient and affectionate son, 

Leonidas Polk. 

In tlie month of June, 1823, Leonidas entered the 
Military Academy. Even among his friends an impres- 
sion has prevailed that, at least during his first year as 
a cadet, he was gay, high-spiiited, not particularly stu- 
dious, not too scrupulously observant of the rules of 
discipline, and quite too ready at times to join in jovial 
escapades in which the virtue of moderation was for- 
gotten. In that impression there is an exceedingly 
small modicum of truth. That the lad was high-spirited 
and frolicsome there is no doubt ; but the standing he 
held in his class suifieiently proves that he was not idle, 
and if he at any time incurred the displeasure of his 
superiors, it was not because he was insubordinate or 
disorderly, but because he demanded that his superiors, 
as well as himself, should obey the dictates of justice. 
He was a soldier by nature; he loved the discipUne 
which he knew to be necessary in an army; and his 
lofty self-respect kept him from secret evasions of his 


duty. Moroovor, he ■was jn'ond of tlie Academy, and so 
eagerly ambitious of its distinctions that an unmerited 
disappointment in his expectation of bearing off its 
highest lionors changed the whole course of his life. 

In the selection of his intimates at West Point he was 
discreet and fortunate, one of his earliest and closest 
friends being Albert Sidney Johnston, who was in the 
class next before him. Johnston was even then the 
senior officer of the cadets, and had already exliibited 
the qualities which in after-life made him both honored 
and distinguished. Polk and Johnston were room-mates 
until the latter was graduated in 1826, and theii* friend- 
ship endured without a break until the heroic Johnston 
fell on the field of Shiloli. Very many letters, wi'itten 
chiefly to his parents, have been preserved, and give a 
fairly full account of Polk's whole life while at West 
Point. After two months sj^ent in camp, he "v^Tote to 
his mother as follows, telling of his association vnXh 
Johnston, and of recent visits to the Academy which 
had been made by Mr. Canning and General Scott : 

Camp Scott, West Poixt, 

August 27, 182.3, 
My dear Mother : You see, by the date of my letter, that 
we still are in camp, but will remove into baiTaeks in a few 
days, the 1st of September being the appointed day. By that 
time the corps, as well as the officers, become somewhat tired 
of a camp hfe and desire a change. I am also anxious to 
return to quarters, yet by no means do I complain of my 
present situation, for it is such a one as suits my disposition. 
My anxiety arises from a love of change occasionally, which 
is certainly natural to us all. My course during the next year 
will be an agreeable one, owing to my good fortune as to 
room-mates; tliey being young men of high standing; two 
of them Kentucldans, the thu-d a Nortli Carolinian. One of 
them fi'ora Kentucky, Albert Sidney .Johnston, is the senior 

^t. 17] MAJOli-GENERAL HCOTT. 53 

officer of the cadets, and is popular amoug the officers of the 
staff on account of his strict attention to duty and steadiness 
of character. We have most of the great folks to visit us, par- 
ticularly at this season. You may have observed a quotation 
in the Raleigh Begister from the Netv York Statesman, written 
by ''A Traveler," giving a description of Mr. Canning's (the 
British JMinister's) visit to the Point. It is a very correct one, 
though in some places a little florid. You will oblige me by 
reading it, if you have not already done so, as it will gratify 
you. We have this day passed a review before General Scott, 
who arrived in the steamboat last night, together with his 
family, and intends remaining here a week. The battalion 
at twelve o'clock formed in front of the encampment, and 
were marched on the place opposite the General's quarters 
by the instructor of cadets. Major Worth ; then they formed 
line in order to salute him when he advanced to inspect them, 
the colors being in the advance, the band in the rear of them, 
the battahon in the rear of the band. When everything was 
in readiness, he, accompanied by Colonel Thayer, proceeded 
from his quarters and advanced in front of the battahon. On 
his approach the colors were lowered and the battalion or- 
dered to present arms, which he politely returned by "doffing 
his beaver." The band then struck up a favorite march of 
the General's, which was soon followed by various maneuvers 
by the cadets. Mrs. Scott, who was the beautiful Miss Mayo, 
was a spectator ; I was too military, though, to turn my 
head, and therefore did not see her. The General is a much 
larger man than I had supposed him to be. He is larger than 
my father; indeed I think him about Governor Holmes's size, 
yet not possessed of half the Governor's grace ; in truth, he is 
more awkward than otherwise. 

Your most affectionate son, 

Cadet Leonidas Polk. 

In a succeeding letter he mentions his good fortune 
in meeting Major-Genenil Gaines, who had been in com- 
mand of the Department of the South, and who was so 
much loved in the armv. 


I have had tlie pleasure of an introduction to General 
Gaines, in common with the rest of my fellow-soldiers. He is 
plain and affable in his manners, and relieves a young man 
from that constraint he is put under in the presence of age, 
superiority of rank, etc. On being introduced as Cadet Polk 
from Noi-th Carolina — "Polk," says he; "ah! son of General 
Polk, I presume." " Yes, sir," was my reply, though not with- 
out some hesitation, for I knew of no General Polk of Noi-th 
Carolina, at least so called by its inhabitants, though I im- 
mediately reflected that such was my father's title, and that 
he was so called by the citizens of Tennessee, where the Gen- 
eral has heard him spoken of. 

To his father, after six months' experience, he describes 
tlie internal working of the Academy : 

November 16, 1823. 
You desired me to give you an account of this institution 
of the benefits arising from the course of study (comparing 
it with other institutions), etc. I should have done so un- 
asked, and with pleasure, before this, but for supposing that 
I had written you on that subject. I think in point of mathe- 
matics and philosophy and the other sciences dependent on 
these two, this institution is inferior to none in the United 
States, and I may in justice to ourselves say the icorld. This 
may sound like the empty declaration of boyish enthusiasm, 
but it is an opinion founded on that of visitors to this place, 
men of distinction, both foreigners and citizens of the United 
States, who have seen most literary institutions in Europe. 
Tlie Polytechnic in France held deservedly the first standing 
during tlie time of Bonaparte, but since that, it has fallen 
through and come into disrepute. The internal organization 
of this Academy is a pattern from that, and most of the 
authors we study are selected from the French, some of them 
translated into Enghsh, others not. The system of teaching 
is such here as to prevent the occuiTenee of an evil prevalent 
in most of oiu* colleges. I mean that lazy and idle habit 
contracted by many students which enables them to be 


dragged barely at the heels of their classes. At this place 
it is indispensably necessary that every one should study, and 
of course be acquainted with what he studies, as the daily 
examinations in the section rooms are very rigorous and such 
as to discover whether one knows his lesson or not. If he 
should be found repeatedly deficient, he is dismissed or 
forced to resign. Our time is so wholly engi-ossed in our 
academic duties that it is impossible to devote any to literary 
attainments private^. I should add, when I speak of literary 
attainments, I mean such as composition or attendance on 
debating societies, etc. I was under the impression before 
coming here that our knowledge of the French language 
would enable us to speak it tolerably fluent. But I find that 
we are only taught to read it sufficiently well to prosecute 
our studies in French with ease. Enough for the Academy. 

Oui' military instruction in tactics, etc., is very good, as 
there is great care taken to advance in both theory and 
practice. This depends chiefly, though, on the cadet himself, 
whether or not he gets into office. If he does, he necessarily 
has more duty to perform, and is therefore a better soldier. 

Our officers — our instructors, I mean, in tactics — are well 
qualified to perform the duties which devolve on them, and 
instill very rigid principles of discipline in those under them, 
which is indeed (recollecting at the same time to whom I 
address myself) the quintessence of a well-regulated army. 

Ill January, 1824, Leoiiidas passed liis fii-st examina- 
tion, and was able to report to his father that, in a class 
of ninety-six, lie stood fourth in mathematics. In French 
he was disappointed to be ranked only twenty-seventh. 
His general standing w\as higli, and even in French it 
was above the average. Considering the disadvantages 
under which he had entered, he had reason to be satis- 
fied ; but he declared his intention to gain a higher place, 
if hard work could accomplish it. In the month of Juh', 
after a year in the Academy, lie thus modestly reports 
his first promotion : 


1 am now pleasantly situated in camp, tenting: with Mr. 
Donaldson. When I first arrived, I found I was the fairest 
cadet in the corps, but after performing two or three ''tours 
of guard," I was qidte in uniform. So great is the influence 
of the sun. I am relieved from that duty now by the Major's 
honoring me with an appointment on the staff, which oc- 
curred two days since. I attend to no military duty at this 
time whatsoever, but am attached to the adjutant's depart- 
ment, and do nothing but write. Following the precedent 
of the last two years, the office woidd have been given to the 
head of the class ; yet the Major has seen fit to vary from it 
in the present instance. The appointment is that of staff 
sergeant. 1 

The yoiing cadet had made an impression on his com- 
rades, as well as on Ids superiors, which remained un- 
changed to the end of his life. Fifty years later, one of 
them expressed the general feeling concerning liim in 
these words : "I knew him as a cadet, and during his 
career as a bishop. He was always the same, a conscien- 
tious, persevering, daring man. At West Point he was 
a boy of fine presence, fine form, graceful bearing, full 
of life, ready for anji:hing, generous, consistent. What 
he believed to be right he would do." His promotion 
aroused no envy in his comrades,- and his diligence as a 

1 The major here mentioned was Major, afterward General, Worth, 
between whom and Polk an affectionate friendship existed for many 
years. At the outljreak of the Mexican War, Bishop Polk sent his own 
saddle-horse, an unusually fine animal, to his old commander. It was 
ridden by the General during the war. It was severely wounded, and 
was returned by General Wortli at the close of the war in order that it 
might be properly cared for. The rest of its life was passed as a pen- 
sioner in the blue-grass fields of Mr. George Polk, and for years it was a 
source of never-ending amusement to the children of the family, whose 
delight it was to play with the gallant old war-horse and rouse his mar- 
tial spirit by beating drums and even old kettles. 

2 Among these comrades were: Robert Anderson. Major-General, 
U. S. A. ; Charles F. Smith. Major-Gcuoral, V. S. A. ; Albert Sidney Jolm- 


student was so exemplary that in his third year he 
ranked as one of the " first six " of his class. His letters 
to his father were joyous, but punctiliously respectful. 
In September, 1824, he wrote : 

We are very comfortably situated in barracks now, and all 
things go on smoothly, save the existence of a little irritation 
of feeling, which is the necessary concomitant of all those in 
the vicinity of the " path " of the Marquis, or General, Lafa- 
yette. You will have perceived by the papers that he has 
returned to New York from his visit to Boston amidst as 
many demonstrations of joy as Avhen he first reached that 
city. He is to attend on Monday night a very splendid ball 
to be given him in that place, in Chatham Garden, which is 
floored over and will contain, 1 understand, upwards of 5000 
persons. On the day after he is to honor us with his pres- 
ence, — we are to do him all possible military honors, stun him 
with the roar of cannon, drill until he is tired of us, and as a 
dinner will be given him, if he remains until night, he will 
have a levee! Between this place and Newburg, the inhabit- 
ants have, I understand, crowned the most prominent heights 
with hosts of tar barrels (North Carolina wiU thrive) which 
are to be fired as he passes upwards. This he is to do in 
the night, of course. 

He took a boyish pride in the distinction conferred on 
his father in the reception of General Lafayette, and 
was anxious that the old North State shonld appear to 

ston, General, C. S. A. ; S. P. Heintzelman, Major-General, U. S. A. ; 
A. B. Eaton, Major-General, U. S. A.; Silas Casey, Major-General, U. S. A.; 
Jefferson Davis, President, C. S. A.; Robert E. Lee, General, C. S. A.; 
Joseph E. Johnston, General, C. S. A.; O. M. Mitchell, Major-General, 
U. S. A. ; W. Hoffman, Major-General, U. S. A. ; T. Swords, Major-Gen- 
eral, U. S. A. ; A. A. Humphreys, Major-General, U. S. A. ; W. H. Emory, 
Major-General, U. S. A. ; Samuel B. Curtis, Major-General, U. S. A. ; 
Humphrey Marshall, Major-General, C. S. A. ; Alexander Dallas Bache, 
Professor; A. E. Church, Professor; W. W. Mather, Professor; A. T. 
Bledsoe, Professor; George W. Cass, CivU Engineer. 


advantage on that occasion. At the same time he re- 
ports that he has entered on tlie study of fluxions, 
wliieh he has found to be difficult, but '' subscr\dent to 
application." In the same letter he mentions the begin- 
ning of an indisi)().sition which continued, witli intervals 
of relief, for several 3'ears, and at one time threatened 
to close his career by an early death. 

By the National Intelligencer I observe it stated that Gen- 
eral Lafayette and suite set out for the South on the twenty- 
third of the last month. He has now, I presume, arrived at 
Raleigh, and is at this time probably receiving the hearty con- 
gratuh^tious of its citizens. 

I am happy to hear of the distinctions that are paid you on 
this occasion. All other considerations aside, it evinces on 
the part of our citizens a willingness stiU to single out and 
honor at every opportunity the remaining sm'^dvors of our 
glorious Revolution. It is a just tribute and one which 
should be paid by the remotest posterity, were it possible for 
them to live and I'eceive it. 

I confidently trust that the reception oE the Genei-al in North 
Carolina will do much honor to the State. We are greatly in 
the background in matters and things generally, but from the 
decisive steps that have been taken, I am constrained to 
beheve that we will not be on this occasion. We cannot, it is 
true, parade as many brilliantly caparisoned troops, at once, 
to discharge so many pieces of artUlery, or show as much 
pomp and splendor on the occasion, as some of our Northern 
brethren ; yet I presume we can Ijriug forward as much 
staunch civility, cordiality, and hearty welcora,e as most of 
them. In conclusiou with this subject I have only to express 
my sincere regret at the necessity of my absence from partici- 
pating in the universal joy which will reign dui'ing his stay 
with you. 

We progress here as usual, following closely the same 
routine of duty. I have, since the examination, been studjdng 
a subject not prosecuted, I believe, in our University, at 

^t. 19] ''A PATCH FOE OLD SUIBTS:' 59 

least wlien I was there, — fluxions. At first, as is usual witli 
almost all studies, it appeared pretty difficult, but, like all 
other mathematics, was readily subservient to application. 
To the study of the works of the more learned philosophers, 
Newton, Gregory, etc., it is indispensable, — all of the phi- 
losophy of the former is leased iu fact upon the principles of 

Excepting a bad cold and sore throat which I now have, 
my health has been very good. 

Another letter wiitten by Leonidas to liis mother con- 
tains an allnsion to '^ a patch for old shirts," which 
''patch" came near getting him into trouble with the 

West Point, April 18, 1825. 

My dear 3Iother: It is so customary to begin letters with 
excuses for the writer's own neghgence, and to detail the long 
catalogue of uncontrollable events that has been the cause of 
it all; or to complain of and criminate the remissness of cor- 
respondents, that I feel that I should be ashamed to say aught 
of either. Yet, notwithstanding, I cannot refrain from tell- 
ing you that I have been a long time patiently awaiting a 
letter from you. It is true, through others I frequently hear 
from you. I wish, however, to see the scratch of your own pen. 

Pa's last very acceptable letter came to hand in due sea- 
son, enclosing a "patch for old shirts." I did not intend, as 
he seems to have understood me, that I actually put on tivo 
shirts at once, as the term "doubling" would seem to convey. 
Double they were, it is true ; this was done by my washman, 
and when they came into my hands they were "two single 
gentlemen rolled into one," so that our shirts had, as our i)ro- 
fessor tells us some mathematical points have, the very re- 
markable property of being two and one at the same time. 

With us to-day has been quite an uncommon one, having 
on it commenced a general review of our course since last 
January. I also began the study and practice of surveying. 
To say yet how I like the latter might be premature, inas- 


much as we have only had the use of the instruments taught 
us, and the general principles of it explained. So far, how 
ever, I am well satisfied, and as I have determined to be more 
so, and if possible learn it well, it is highly probable I will 
not be much encumljered with it. 

With regard to Hamilton and Harry, I fear that my 
father wUl be unable to obtain warrants for them, at least for 
the former, so long as I remain here. There was at the last 
session of Congress introduced into the Senate by iMr. Macon 
a bill to prevent the education of more than one of the same 
family (brothers, as I xmderstand it) at this institution ; and 
also to limit the number of cadets to the number of Congres- 
sional Representatives. I recollect afterward to have seen 
the report of the committee to which this bill was refeiTcd, 
that this clause referring to the limitation of the number was 
considered inexiiedient, though I am not positive about the 
other. This, however, I have heard, that Major Worth, as 
commandant of the corps, applied for an appointment for a 
brother of his, and that the Secretary of War infonned him 
lie could not now have it, though he woidd grant it on the 
1st of September next, by which time another brother who is 
now here shall have gi-aduated and left the Academy. 

I have also heard that the cadets for 1826 were appointed 
by Secretary Calhoun before he left the War Department; 
whether by request or otherwise, or whether the report is 
true, I am unable to say, as it came very indirectly. 

As yet we have not heard of any intention of marching 
the corps from this point. With regard to my intended dis- 
posal of myself during the ensuing vacation, I have concluded, 
for reasons before stated to my father, though at that time 
not determined on, to remain at the Point. It is more than 
probable I shall visit North Carohna one year hence. This 
too depends upon a contingency. 

The superintendent of the Academy at that time, and 
for many years after, was Colonel S^ivanus Thayer, a 
competent soldier and an aceomplished officer, who was 
laudably desirous to improve the discipline of the in- 


stitntion. It may be doubted whether some of Colonel 
Thayer's methods were eiith-ely judicious. He had the 
misfortune to inspire some of the cadets with resentment 
at what they considered a system of espionage, and also 
with a feeUng that, in the correction of practices which 
lie disapproved, his awards of punishment were not 
justly distributed. For a time, but only for a time, 
Cadet Polk shared in the feelings of his comrades. 
There was a standing regulation of the Academy which 
forbade the cadets to receive money from home without 
the knowledge of the superintendent ; but the regulation 
had been tacitly ignored and had become virtually obso- 
lete. One day Colonel Thayer startled Polk by saying 
very positively, " You have received money from home, 
sir." Polk supposed that his father must have written 
to the colonel mentioning the circumstance, and instantly 
replied that he had received money. He was thereupon 
admonished that he must literally obey the regulations 
on that subject. He explained that the pay he was re- 
ceiving from the government had been insufficient to 
supply him with actual necessaries and conveniences, 
that he had been obliged to contract debts for articles 
of oi'dinary comfort, and that he was then in debt for 
such articles. On leaving the colonel he thought noth- 
ing more of the subject until he received a letter from 
his father, from which it appeared that Colonel Thayer's 
information had not been received from Colonel Polk ; 
and on making further inquiry, he was disgusted to learn 
that the report against him had been made by a tale- 
bearing postmaster who had acted as a spy and had seen 
him open the letter in which his father's remittance, 
that ''patch for old shirts," had been contained. The 
indignation of the young cadet on making this discov- 
ery was warmly expressed in a letter \u his father, in 


■which, for a moment, he showed himself to be on the 
verge of deliberate insubordination. 

The colonel will not hesitate a moment to receive any in- 
formation from any source concerning us ; there are a gi-eat 
many individuals (of all ranks) on the Point, who act as his 
emissaries, and whose duty it is to spjj out secretly and re- 
port all infraction of regulations. One of these ferrets it was 
(I had it from himself), fashioned into the form of a postmas- 
ter, and laboring not only under the weight of honor, but 
also of that of the oaths of office, who conveyed the intelli- 
gence. Tliis was not known to me at the time Colonel 
Thayer spoke to me about it, or I should have put him to the 
test by asking him for his author. It was my impi'ession, 
from his saying very positively, " You have received money 
from home, sir," that probably you had written to him stat- 
ing the circumstances attending the transmission, and I very 
unhesitatingly answered that I had. He then went on des- 
canting on the necessity of obeying hterally the regulations 
and such hke, I told him that the monej' paid me by the 
government was found to be insufficient to satisfy my actual 
wants and moderate convenience, and therefore I had apphed 
for the deficit to you. Shirts I was obliged to have, and I was 
more in debt at that time than I ever expected to be when I 
came here. He said, I suspect, pretty much the same that he 
wrote to you, about merit, conduct, etc., and we separated. 
The doubt, if any there was, of the postmaster, was turned 
into certainty, when I, very indiscreetly, opened the letter in 
his presence, not suspecting he was the man he has pi'oved to 
be. Lea\'ing to you to judge of such conduct as the above 
on the part of the head of an institution like this, I will 
merely say that I was sorry to hear you have stated to the 
superintendent that such an infraction should not again 
occiu', for I am now in want of flannels and other things 
which money must buy. And besides I have touched but 
$5 of my pay for the last five or six months. By accurate 
calculation I could not, if I were fi'eed from debt, receive but 
$G per month of the $28 which are allowed us, so many stop- 

^t. 19] A CADETS FINANCES. 63 

pages have there been made upon our pay, and out of this 
six doUai's I have to pay the tailor, shoemaker, and merchant 
for such articles as may be wanted. But, exactly like nine- 
teen twentieths of the corps, 1 am indebted to the aforesaid 
tailor, merchant, etc., the major part of my next month's pay, 
and this has been the case for many months, and things are 
so arranged that there seems to be no remedy. Not even the 
rigid economy of the Yankees can withstand it. Keeping us 
in debt is said to be the superintendent's policy, thereby pre- 
venting us from spending our money for trifles. For one, 1 
shoidd rather consult my own wishes and sense of propriety. 

Thirteen of us board with an old lady to whom we pay for 
better fare $2 per month more than is paid at the mess-house. 
I am also allowed a waiter, to whom I pay $2 per month. I 
was under the impression that I had mentioned the receipt of 
the note in the spring in a letter to you. The one by William 
Baylow was received also, which was very seasonable. I was 
making my arrangements for a trip to New York, which 
would have certainly failed but for its reaching me just then. 

I have no news to write that Avould interest you. Our ex- 
amination is approaching, and all are, as usual, making vig- 
orous preparations. Up to this period I have never in North 
Carolina experienced so pleasant a fall. We have had but 
one slight fall of snow which did not lie four hours. 

The examinations to which Polk refers in this letter, 
and on w^liich liis distinction as a cadet was so largely 
to depend, resulted in a bitter disappointment. In the 
drawing- exercises of the Academy a practice had long 
prevailed, wdtli the knowledge of the instructors, which 
was doubtless objectionable, and which was finally pro- 
]ii])ited by Colonel Thayer. The prohibition was dis- 
regarded, the cadets choosing to take the risk of their 
disobedience, and taking it for granted that the conse- 
quences would be equitably meted out. Unquestionably 
Colonel Thayer was right in maintaining discipline ; but 
he aroused in them a strong feeling of antagonism by 


the inequality of the punishments awarded in tliis case. 
Polk was one of the cliief sufferers hv Colonel Thaj'er's 
judp-inent. Tlie consequence to him was a lowering of 
his standing in his class to an extent which was not just, 
since nearly the wliole class had been equally in fault. 
His conduct Avas prompt and characteristic. He ad- 
dressed a letter of complaint to the Secretaiy of War, 
and forwarded it, as the regulations required, through 
Colonel Thayer himself. It was a bojdsh letter, but it 
was also a manly one, and may here be given in full. 

U. S. M. A., West Point, Jan. 23, 1826. 


Sir : The regulations govemine: the Academy prescribe : 
that in case a cadet, feeling himself aggrieved by the author- 
ities immediately over him, applies to the superintendent for 
relief, and is by him refused, such cadet may then appeal to 
the Department of War through the hands of the superin- 
tendent, whose duty it shall be to forward the appeal to the 
Secretary of War for his examination and order thereon. 
Being one of those individuals coming vmder the provision 
of the above article, I proceed now to submit my grievance, 
together with other facts, which it will be first necessary to 

For many years past, it has been customary" wiih. the great 
majority of such cadets as were engaged in drawing either 
to place the paper, on which they intended to di*aw a piece, 
over the copy representing it, and thereby seeing the princi- 
pal points or lines, to dot or trace them on said paper, or to 
aiTive at the same by measurmg distances with strips of 
paper, pencils, etc. Establishing thus the most remarkable 
objects, they sketch oft" the rest from sight. This practice 
being detrimental to the progress of the classes in learning 
how to " sketch " was censured by the teacher, and finally 
prohibited by an order from the superintendent. So much, 
however, was added to the appearance of their drawings by 
such means that cadets were willing to risk violating the 


order, and ready to abide by the consequences, provided each 
suffered in proportion to the magnitude of his offense. 

In the order of the superintendent alluded to, it was stated 
that an improper advantage was taken of their fellows, by 
those using those means. To this it was answered that since 
the practice was of such long standing, so general that it 
might be called universal, and since they traced without the 
semblance of secrecy toward each other, its criminality was 
lessened to almost nothing, and their perfect openness seemed 
very little like a wish on their part to defraud those thus 
looking at them. At the late examination, the Academic 
Staff — by what law or authority it is difficult to conceive — 
authorized a committee of its body to send for particular in- 
dividuals of the drawing-classes, and to ask them, if per- 
chance guilty, to convict themselves, by their own confessions, 
of an infraction of regulations. Accordingly, of those called 
on, consisting of about half the second and one of the tlm-d 
class, but two or three denied that they had either "traced" 
or "measured," two refused to answer at all; the rest ac- 
knowledged that they had done either the one or the other, 
or both, stating that it had been general, and, so far as our 
knowledge extended, always practiced. I, who was one of 
this number, appealed to the assistant teacher who was near 
at hand, and who had himself but lately been a cadet. He 
very readily testified to the fact. 

Of those who confessed, one Avas placed fifth, two or three 
distributed among those not called on, the remainder arranged 
in order at the foot of the class. Of those who refused one 
alone was found deficient ; the other, who was last year second 
in his class in drawing, and now stands deservedly among 
the first draftsmen in the corps, was absolutely put foot of 
the whole, — he who was deficient excepted of course. Upon 
what grounds the gentleman placed so high was assigned 
there is entirely unaccountable, since he acknowledged to 
the Staff he had either measured or traced the whole of his 
pieces, more or less, whilst others culpable in a far less degree 
were placed much below him. On what principle, it may be 
equally well asked, did they give the gentleman placed foot, 

66 A S1£NSE OF INJUSTICE. [1826 

his standing ? Had he pleaded guihy of the charges alleged 
against him, they must at least, by the rule ■which seems to 
have governed them, have placed him at the head of those 
who did plead guilty ; the very reverse has occurred, he has 
been imt foot. "We are then left to the conclusion, that in 
placing him so low they sought rather to punish him for liis 
refusal than to render to him his just merit. 

That of which I particularly complain is, that select indi- 
viduals only were suspected and called on, and that the whole 
were not placed on the same footing, especially since it teas 
known, because it was told, that the practice was general. 
After the pubheation of the rule assigning us our places, 
several who thought that duty to themselves requii'ed they 
should ask the superintendent to put the remainder of the 
class to the same test, in order that equal justice should be 
distributed to all, did so. His reply amounted to this : Gen- 
erally, if applications Avere made to him during the examina- 
tions, he would submit them to the Academic Board : since, 
Jiotcever, the examination had closed, he did not think projper to 
reassemble the Board. Submission therefore was the only 

Such a refusal could not have been expected. The petition 
was simply for justice and an equality of priAoleges, which we 
were unquestionably entitled to and shoiild have received. It 
will probably be said the reason why the rest of the class 
were not questioned was, that it might lead to the necessity 
of recalling the published roll and issuing a new one, thereby 
setting a pi'oeedent dangerous to the future quiet of the in- 
stitution. In tliis I grant thei'e is plausibility. Yet if it be 
once established that this precedent shall never be set aside, 
that a roll of merit once made public shall never be altered, 
how far could not the Academic Staff go in any system of 
persecution tliey might choose to adopt ? If ever there was a 
time for investigation, this is it. Not one or two individuals 
only have been injured by tliis act, but the liaK of a class. 
We have pursued the opposite course : gone to the superin- 
tendent for satisfaction, who has received us as stated. I 
therefore, sir, claim of you that protection and redress which 


is as due to me as I confidently trust it will be readily 
rendered by you. 

With sentiments of high respect, etc., 

Cadet Leonidas Polk. 

To Honorable James Barbour, Secretary of War. 

Leonidas had no concealments from his father on this 
subject. On February 8th he wrote as follows : 

U. S. M. A., West Point, Feb. 8, 1826. 
Dear Father: The examination closed on Saturday, twenty- 
first ult., with that of my section in philosophy. By the re- 
port of the Board I have been declared fifth in that branch, 
as also in chemistry. My standing- in di-awing, the remain- 
ing subject of my course, is thirty-second. In regard to this 
latter I feel it incumbent on me to state that it is as unjust 
as it is injurious to my general standing in the institution. 
In order that you should ujiderstand why it is of such a 
nature, I have thought proper to send you the accompanying 
copy of a letter addressed by me to the Secretary of War, 
which Colonel Thayer, through wliose hands it must necessa- 
rily pass, has assured me he would transmit. That I, as well 
as others therein stated, have been wronged, is as certain as 
that we have existence. And I do not despair, notwithstand- 
ing the repeated assurances of the colonel to the contrary, 
lest my letter should fail to produce the desu-ed effect. 
Doubtless he Avill urge on the Department strong reasons to 
support the course he has taken, predicated, I presume, on 
the " good of the institution." He sent for me on the night 
following the morning on which I handed him my letter to 
come to his house. It was for the purpose of suggesting an 
alteration in his reply to me, on the day I called on him for a 
redress of my grievance, which reply was a part of the letter 
to the Secretary. The alteration desired, not affecting the 
object of my \\Titing, was, after some conversation, acceded to 
and inserted. This will account for the disfigured appearance 
of that part of the copy. During all our conversation, which 
afterward turned on other things connected with this matter. 


he seemed desirous to be thouf;:ht in a very <;o(k1 Immor. 
Once forgetting' himself, I suppose, he acknowledged that 
oversight may have been made by the committee whose duty 
it was to determine the merit in drawing, as they made great 
despatch in this examination, with the view of closing it on 
one day. This, I told him, was a very forcible argument in 
favor of a reinspection of the drawings. He would not con- 
sent that such should be done, but observed that as to my 
case he would make inquiry of the committee, and if he 
found that certain pieces of mine had not been considered 
(and I am confident they were not, as, if they were, my whole 
class wiU, witliout hesitation, say that the gi'eatest injustice 
has been done me), he would then let me know what course 
he should pursue. Since then I have not seen him, to ask for 
the result of his inquiiy, though from him I feel afraid that 
no satisfaction can be derived. I am now waiting for the 
issue of my complaint to the Secretary. Many others of my 
class have wi-itten like letters to members of Congress request- 
ing their aid and influence in procuring an investigation. 
Senator Johnson, of Kentucky, in reply to Cadet Bibb's re- 
quest, has promised his aid, and observed that he had often 
tliought that cadets were frequently unjustly oppressed. 
Such iujustice as has been thus exemplified needs, I have 
thought, only to be plainly shown to be plainly seen, so that 
I have represented the whole affaii', as well for as against 
myself, in as plain and forcible manner as I could to the Sec- 
retary alone. If justice lias not given place to military or 
rather despotic notions of bhnd obedience in all cases, I may 
hope for my proper merit. Wm. Baylow is tenth in mathe- 
matics and sixth in French. 

The action of the Secretary of War was what might 
have been expected. The conelusiou of the matter is 
stated in a letter dated April 2, 1826. 

West Point, April 2, 1826. 
My dear Father : I have received your letter on the subject 
of my standing in drawing, etc., and 1 am happy in being 


able to state that before its receipt, having heard from the 
Secretary of War, whose decision was against me, I had 
pursued the course therein advised by you. The Secretary 
noticed our complaints in orders. He approved the course 
of the Board, and concluded by solacing us with the idea 
of there being between the date of our complaints and the 
next ensuing examination six months, and by exhorting us 
during that period diligently to apply ourselves, adding that 
at its expiration " we would receive such standings as an 
impartial decision should award." 

For this I was not prepared. I did not (as did many) 
expect he would annul the proceeding of the Board, and 
give us new standings by the aid of others whom he might 
select; or that he would at all reflect on their decisions, — at 
least, if he should, it would never be known to us. If he did 
anything, of which I had my doubts, that, I believed, would 
be to instruct, or rather request, the Board of Visitors in 
turn to have questioned all of the members of the class 
relative to ti'acing, and have their answers considered in 
making out the standing. This would have been a kind of 
compromise, would have secured to us our just rights, and 
allowed the Board and others a fair opportunity of judging 
of our merits. He thought fit, however, to decide otherwise, 
and if most of us could wield our quills with as full power 
as does any experienced engraver his carving-knife, we 
would be unable, from the blow we received in January, 
to reach in June anything like oui' proper places. From 
considerations such as those mentioned by you, and from 
a firm conviction of the propriety of such a course, and 
worse than folly of any other, I determined to abide tacitly 
by the decision of the Secretary, not at all, however, shaken 
in my opinions in regard to the matter. I am aware of 
the high estimation in which the Staff and supei'intendent 
in particular are held by the government, and know conse- 
quently the difficulty I had to contend with in making my 
complaint. I felt aggrieved; the Regulations of the Academy 
point out a course to those thus situated. I pursued that 
course, and the highest authority by them recognized having 

70 MORTIFl i'A Tl ON. [1 82(i 

decided against me, I did not conceive the gi'ievance so 
oppressive as to require either a further appeal or pi'ocedure 
of any kind. My general merit may, and doubtless will, 
be affected materially by my standing in drawing. It should 
be certainly the desire of every young man to aim at a re- 
spectable position among his fellow -students, wherever he 
may be put to school. Such is my wisli, as much or more, 
I need not add, on others' account than my own. 

Five years after graduation will obliterate the fact of an 
individual's standing here or there, or, if it is recollected, it 
will be said, perhaps, that he obtained it for having a knack 
at small things, great i)lodding, and the like. These con- 
siderations, aided by your own opinions and advice, have 
jiut to rest all my cares about the affair, and I am now 
progressing as cheerfully as though I were first. 

The philosophical indifference to his disappointment 
■which the yonng cadet assumed in writing to his father 
■was far from real. He had no confidence that the -vvrong 
■would be righted. He felt that the class distinction 
which he had fairly won had been unjustly w^rested from 
him. He continued to work steadily and resolutely, but 
he was deeply mortified, and he was stUl more deeply 
indignant. He brooded over his disaster with gloomy 
forebodings, and wondered what might be in store for 
him in a world in which a venial fault may cost the 
coveted reward of years of faithful labor. Sitting mood- 
ily in his room one night, he cast about for something 
to distract his thoughts. In his table drawer he found a 
tract ; and the reading of that tract changed the whole 
course of his after-life. 

It was just about a year since a new chaplain, who 
was also professor of ethics, had appeared at the Acad- 
emy. He was a new cliaplain in more senses than one, 
for never before had officers or cadets heard such ser- 
mons as lie addressed to them. Dr. Charles Pettit Mcll- 


vaine, afterward Bishop of Ohio, was then at the zenith 
of his powers, of a tall and majestic person, lofty but 
gracious in bearing, in countenance not unlike ideal- 
ized portraits of Wasliington. His voice was powerful 
and penetrating, but melodious ; his gesture perfect and 
therefore apparently unstudied ; his manner in the pidpit 
fuU of earnestness. He had gone to West Point from 
Washington, where oratory was both practiced and ap- 
preciated, and it was not in vain that Dr. Mcllvaine had 
heard such orators as Webster and Hayne, Burgess and 
Calhoun. General Crafts J.Wright, who was then at West 
Point, thus deseriljes the impression he made at his first 
appearance as the chaplain of the Academy: "On the 
first Sunday of Dr. Mcllvaine's preaching at West Point 
the cadets went to chapel, as usual, some with books 
to read, and others hoping to sleep, but none ex- 
pecting to take any interest in the sermon. Had a 
bugle been sounded in the chapel they could not have 
been more astonished. Books were dropped, sleep was 
forgotten, attention was riveted. There was general 
surprise and gratification. From that day on the chap- 
lain's influence grew more and more powerful, until at 
length the whole corps was roused as by a thunder-clap 
at the announcement that Leonidas Polk and others had 
been ' converted,' and that Polk was to lead a ' praying 
squad ' in the prison, which was the only unoccupied and 
quiet room in the barracks. I and many others stood 
on the stoop to see them go by and find out who they 
were. Polk, calm and fearless, with earnest anxiety in 
his look, headed the squad of ' converted ' men. From 
day to daj' the number increased, and finally it became 
so large that they were obliged, for want of room, to 
adjourn to the chapel. There was a veritable revolution 
in the barracks and the corps of cadets." 


The story of these remarkable events may best per- 
haps be told in the language (somewhat condensed) of 
Bishop Mcllvaine himself. 

"When I began duty as chaplain and professor of 
ethics, the late Bisliop Polk was a cadet in his third 
year. I had no knowledge of him except as one of the 
congregation to whom I preached, until circumstances of 
a veiy interesting kind brought him to my house. 

" The condition of the Academy was far from encour- 
aging. There was not one ' professor of religion ' among 
the officers, military or civil. Several of them were 
friendly to the efforts of the chaphxin, others were de- 
cidedly the reverse. Of the cadets not one was known 
to make any profession of interest in religion. Among 
cadets, officers, and instructors there was a great deal 
of avowed infidelity, but my venerable and beloved 
friend, Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, then commanding offi- 
cer, though not a communicant of any church, must be 
understood, with others of the officers, to be untouched 
by these remarks. 

" I had been laboring for nearl}'- a year without the 
sUghtest encouragement. Not a cadet had called to see 
me. I knew them only as I met them in my class or 
saw them as a congregation. They seemed to feel that 
it would be regarded as a profession of interest in re- 
ligion to come to me. One of them, whose father had 
requested him to become acquainted with me, was afraid 
(as he afterward told me) to do so until after his father's 
death. In the deepest of my discouragement, when I 
had just concluded a series of discourses on the e^i- 
dences of Cliristianity without any known effect, this 
cadet came to my study. He introduced himseK by 
saying that his father had recently died, and he was 
ashamed to say that si foolisli fear liad kept liim from 


coming to see me. Before he left me I put a tract into 
liis hand. ' Tliis/ I said, ' is for you.' It was addressed 
to a person in affliction. Another was addressed to an 
unbeUever. ' Take this,' I said, and ' drop it somewhere 
in the barracks ; perhaps I shall hear of it again.' He 
smiled, and said he would do as I asked. A Aveek passed, 
and I had forgotten the tract, but the following Satur- 
day afternoon came another cadet. As I took his hand, 
he said, ' My name is Polk,' and could say no more. I 
led him to a chair. He was still silent, as if he feared 
to speak lest he should not control his feelings. Suj)pos- 
ing he had got into trouble with the authorities of the 
institution, I asked him to trust me as a friend and tell 
me his burden. Then he burst into the most feeling 
and intense expression of a mind convinced of sin, and 
earnestly begged to be told what he must do for salva- 
tion. He had conversed with nobody. There was no 
man there but his minister who could have compre- 
hended his state of mind. I asked him how it came. 
He answered, 'I picked up a tract in my room; who 
put it there I do not know.' It was the tract I had sent 
at a venture. Then he said that the discourses on the 
evidences had made a certain impression on liis mind, 
which had been in a degree skeptical; then, having 
heard I had caused a number of copies of Dr. Olynthus 
Gregory's ' Letters on the Evidences ' to be brought to 
West Point and deposited with the quartermaster, he 
had obtained a copy. That book had strengthened his 
impressions, but he was not aware to what extent the 
truth had taken hold of him till he had read the tract. 
His docility and ]niml)leness of spirit were very striking. 
" After I had given him instruction and prayed with 
him, he became tranquil and began to speak of his cir- 
cumstances. His would be the first known instance in 


the history of the Academy of a cadet having come out 
and taken position as a follower of Christ. He consid- 
ered how he would be wondered at and observed, and by 
some ridiculed; he deeply felt the need of the greatest 
circumspection and of strength from above, lest he should 
not walk consistently with the new life on which he now 
sought to enter. Next morning he would attend divine 
worship as he had never attended before. It would get 
abroad in the corps that this great change had come 
over his mind. He would be watched in the chapel. He 
reflected that no cadet had ever knelt in the service, and, 
so far as was remembered, no officer, professor, or in- 
structor. The chapel was then so small that the cadets 
sat on benches without backs, and were so crowded to- 
gether that it was difficult for any one to kneel. He 
asked me what he ought to do, not having the slightest 
idea of shrinking from a duty, and yet modest and not 
wishing to make himself unnecessaril}' an object of 
observation. I said he had better begin at once. The 
next day, when the confession in the service came, I 
could hear his movement to get space to kneel, and then 
his deep tone of response, as if he were trembling with 
new emotion ; and then it seemed as if an impression of 
solemnity pei"vaded the congregation. It was a new 
sight, that single kneeling cadet. Such a thing had not 
been supposed to be possible. 

" It pleased God that this, though the first, was not 
the only instance. Cadets and officers afterward told 
me that if I had chosen one man out of the whole corps, 
whose example w^ould have the greatest effect on the 
minds of his comrades, I should have chosen him. In 
the com-se of a week, one and another, strangers to me, 
came on the same errand, each vnthout previous com- 
municati<ni with any one until he went to Cadet Polk 

^t. 20] BAPTISM OF CADETS. 75 

and asked to be introduced to me. I found it necessary 
to have meeting's for them twice or thrice a week in my 
house for instruction and prayer. Soon the number of 
cadets, with some professors and instructors, was so great 
as wholly to occupy the largest room I had, and in the 
case of almost every cadet who came his chosen intro- 
ducer was Leonidas Pollv, the first-born of these many 

" Forty days after his first interview with mc, Cadet 
Polk was baptized in the chapel, in the presence of the 
corps and an unusually large attendance of officers and 
professors. Another cadet, W. B. Magruder, who still 
hves, was baptized at the same time. The service of 
adult baptism had never been witnessed there before, 
and the circumstances made it an occasion of intense 
interest. At its conclusion I addressed a few words of 
exhortation to the two young men, ending with the sen- 
tence, ' Pray your Master and Saviour to take you out 
of the world rather than allow you to bring reproach on 
the cause you have now professed.' Then there came 
out of the depths of Polk's heart an ' Amen ' which spoke 
to every other heart in the congregation. It is only 
lately that I received a letter from a gentleman, a stran- 
ger to me. When he had heard of the death of Bishop 
Polk, he remembered spending a Sunday at West Point 
in the beginning of 1826 and attending a service in the 
chapel when I baptized two cadets. He recollected the 
very words of the close of my address, and said that one 
of the cadets, whose name was Polk, had responded witli 
a deep-toned 'xVmen ' which still sounded in his ears." 

Shortly after his baptism Cadet Polk was appointed 
orderly sergeant on an occasion and with a purpose 
which showed the esteem in which he was held by his 
superiors. The members of the oldest class had been in 


the habit of lying in bed at early roll-call, and had eonie 
to assert some sort of traditional right to be reported as 
present. The authorities endeavored to correct this 
l)reach of discipline, but had found that it could not be 
broken up without the assistance of orderlies who could 
not be induced to swerve from the line of duty even by 
the public opinion of the whole corps of cadets. Such 
men, it was believed, were now to be found among the 
chaplain's converts. Two were chosen, and one of them 
was Polk. The chaplain heard of it, and, being desu-ous 
of having an explicit acknowledgment of the reason of 
the appointment, he took his stand one day beside his 
friend. Colonel Thayer, when the companies were march- 
ing out to the evening parade. As they approached, the 
chaplain said, " Colonel, why have you selected those two 
cadets for orderly sergeants? As for Polk, I do not 
wonder; he's a fine-looking fellow and marches well; 
but the other is a mere slouch." "The truth is," an- 
swered the colonel, " we had to take them. I thought 
these two young men could be relied upon to do their 
duty at all hazards." His judgment was justified by the 
event. The new orderlies were cajoled and threatened ; 
and at last the alternative was plainly put to them, that 
they must either resign or allow the traditionary practice 
to go on. They quietly answered that neither course 
would be right, and that they meant to do their duty. 
They did it accordingly, and after a while they had no 

As might have been expected, the young convert felt 
it to be his duty to communicate to his father an account 
of the change which had occm-red in the motives and 
ambitions of liis life. After stating as clearly as he 
could the reasons which had convinced him of the truth 
of the Christian religion, he proceeded to tell of the se- 


vere struggle which it had cost him to take up his cross 
by placing himself under the direction of his chaplain, 
Dr. Mcllvaine, and of the peace which he had enjoyed 
after taking that step. It is significant to find that his 
warmth of religious fervor was accompanied by an equal 
warmth of family affection, which led him at the same 
time to urge that he might be permitted to take a fur- 
lough and return home. Of his \'isit to Mr. Mcllvaine 
he said : 

This step was my most trying one. To bring myself to 
renounce all of my former habits and associations; to step 
forth singly fi'om among the whole corps, acknowledging my 
convictions of the truth of the holy religion which I had be- 
fore derided and was now anxious to embrace; and to be put 
up, as it were, as a mark for the observations of others, — 
were trials whicL, unaided by the consolations of the Bible, 
humble and fervent prayer, and above all by the strong hand 
of Him who is all-powerful to shield and protect all such as 
do earnestly desire to make their peace with Him, I should 
have sunk under and again fallen back upon the world. By 
the especial favor of Divine Providence, however, I was so 
strengthened as to continue my efforts, heedless of all oppo- 
sition, and can now freely say that rather than relinquish the 
prospect before me, or yield aught of that hope which cheers 
me in every duty, I would suffer such torture for centuries, 
though it were increased a thousandfold, since I have found 
my mind at ease, and fortified against the opinions of the 
■world. I do not find the duties of reUgion of that gloomy, 
insipid, and austere character that those of the world con- 
ceive they possess ; so far from it, that I am clearly convinced 
that the most happy man on earth is he who practices most 
faithfully the duties of Christianity. Since I have entered on 
my new, and I earnestly hope permanent, course of life, six 
others of the corps have successively come forward after 
the same manner, and we hope for a further increase. The 
colonel is very well disposed toward religion, and has kindly 


granted us permission to attend, with some of the professors 
and others, at Mr. Mcllvaine's nightly meetings for purposes 
of worship. We are now more settled, and are progressing as 
well as attendant circumstances will permit. 

These alterations have, as you may well conceive, caused 
others in my plans for the ensuing encampment. I wrote 
vou some time since the reasons inducing me to I'emain on 
the Point until I should graduate without obtaining a im:- 
lough. Your own request was one and the chief ; and this I 
hope you will, at my earnest solicitation, now withdraw, as I 
would be extremely glad to visit you and the family on the 
coming vacation. I have spoken to Colonel Thayer about it, 
and am induced to behave from what he told me, that he 
woidd not press the objection stated by him some time since 
as to artillery practice. He has laid it down as a rule not to 
give a definite answer to such apphcations until after the 
time specified in the Reg-ulations for making them (viz., the 
1st of June), but told me I might make my apphcation. It 
is necessary to have the consent of om- parents to accompany 
the application. I would be obliged to you, therefore, if you 
would write to Colonel Thayer yourself, and request him to 
grant the permission I want. I have postponed writing you 
so long that my letter and your answer will hardly have 
time to be exchanged before the time for apphcation shall 
have arrived. Will you please, at the same time, send 
me the necessary funds. I have some debts, not of large 
amount, that I should Uke to discharge, I need not, my dear 
father, add anything as to when, where, and how often I 
remember you, my dear mother, brothers, sisters, friends 
and all. 

Yom- truly affectionate son, 


Colonel Polk was not himself a religious man, and he 
was troubled at the intelligence of his son's conversion, 
fearing that he might have been carried away by a 
momentary enthusiasm. His feai's were, of course, ex- 
pressed in his reply to the letter which he had received 


from Leonidas, and he was doubtless somewhat reassured 
by the following letter : 

West Point, June 5, 1826. 
My dear Father: I have received your letter in answer to 
my last, with feelings, as you may well suppose, of deep re- 
gret, seeing from it that I had been the cause of uneasiness 
to the family. I can now realize more clearly the feelings 
with which it impressed you when read. I am truly sorry 
that I shoidd have been unable to repress the expression of 
my own, when under such excitement. At the time I wrote, 
my mind was in a state of gi-eat distraction. This of itself 
disqualified me for writing with coolness, or dispassionately. 
But when to this is added the natural warmth, and, I hope, 
tenderness, of my affections toward my parents, and the solici- 
tude I had for them, as also for the rest of my relatives and 
friends, I trust, my dear father, you will make every aUow- 
ance for the overflowing of a heart thus filled with emotions 
of the hveliest regard. To be now the source of pain to any 
individual would to me be exceedingly painful ; and doubly 
painful would it be to offend, in the least, those to whom I 
am by so many ties most endearingly bound. I have seized 
this, the first opportunity since the receipt of yours in which 
I thought I could say to you those things which I felt as I 
wished. They have weighed, I cannot refrain from repeat- 
ing, heavily on me and often since your letter reached me; 
but I shicerely trust that whatever cares my former letter 
may have created may by this time be removed, and I shall, 
as soon as I can have arranged my affairs after the examina- 
tions, set off, by God's permission, for home and the bosom 
of my family, which having reached, it is my hope that I 
shall be enabled to institute, instead of care, consolation. 
The check on the Mechanics' Bank was enclosed, and, with 
what I shall be entitled to for the time in which I shall be ab- 
sent, will be amply sufficient, as far as I can judge, to pay 
my debts and expenses home. I have spoken to the colonel 
as to my furlough, which he has kindly granted, acknowledg- 
ing at the same time the receipt of your letter. He says I 


can leave here about the 20th inst. I shall then probably 
reach home about tlie 1st of July or sooner. 

Our examination commenced, on to-day, under the inspec- 
tion of a lara^e number of the Board of Visit oi's. T expect to 
be taken up in the course of the two following weeks in both 
branches of my coui'se, and shall pass, I hope, at least a cred- 
itable examination. 

The furlough spent at home in 1826 was a time of 
very gi'eat happiness both to Leonidas and to his father. 
It was not to be expected that Colonel Pollc should 
sympathize with his son's feeling's, but it was not pos- 
sible either to doubt his sincerity or not to respect the 
strength of Ms convi(;tions and the modest firmness of 
his resolution. In due time Leonidas returned to West 
Point, and engaged with greater industry perhaps than 
ever in the prosecution of his studies. In a letter writ- 
ten during the following winter he laments the difficulty 
of pursuing the higher branches, even of a military edu- 
cation, as far as he would like, and expresses particular 
regret that literature should be almost entii-ely neglected. 
" For the interests of the xVcademy and the country," he 
says, " it is gi-eatly to l)e desired that the Board of Vis- 
itors would add to the course another year, in which 
polite learning should at least be taught, if not exclu- 
sively. For my own part, I would more i-eadity spend 
my fifth year in a course of reading than in doing the 
duties of a lieutenant." A little later he urges this point 
somewhat more explicitly. He says: "My classical 
education is imperfect. My knowledge of history, and 
indeed of most l^ooks aside from my text-books, is 
exceedingly limited ; and I feel great unwillingness to 
close my eyes to all this life while only an effort is want- 
ing to its enjoynu'ut." He therefore asks his fathei-'s 
permission to accept the professorship of the matlie 


matical and physical sciences in a new institution whicli 
was about to be founded in Massachusetts, and which 
has since become famous as Amherst College. This 
position had been tendered to him unsought, at the in- 
stance and by the recommendation of Colonel Thayer, 
who had now become his fast friend. The salary offered 
was moderate, but sufficient in those times for his com- 
fortable support.^ The duties of the professorship, he 
said, would occupy only about three hours a day, and 
would leave him ample time to prosecute his own studies 
with the assistance of his colleagues of the faculty. He 
urged in favor of the acceptance of this position that it 
would enable him to be of special service to his brothers 
Rufus and Washington, who might be with him at Am- 
herst, and over whom he could have a brotherly over- 
sight. He said he had considered the obligation resting 
upon him to remain for a year in the army after his 
graduation, and had come to the conclusion that he was 
bound by it only in case the government declined to 
release him. " The engagement was," he said, " that I 
should consider myself its servant for a term of five 
years, unless it sooner discharged me. If, therefore, I 
knew or supposed it to be ready to grant such discharge, 
there could certainly be nothing wrong in making the 
application. I have consulted the superintendent con- 
cerning it. He thinks my views are correct, and that no 
obhgation rests on me to abstain from applying for a 
discharge should I desire one." 

For various reasons Colonel Polk was not inclined to 
sanction the adoption of the course proposed, and Leou- 
idas unhesitatingly relinquished it ; but in so doing he 
announced his intention to enter the ministrj^ of the 

1 Eight hundred, dollars eschisive of all charges for board, room, 
servant, etc. 


Cliiu'ch, and begged that he might have the approbation 
of liis parents in adopting that profession. He said : 

Witli you I concur in the opinion that it is the part of 
wisdom in a young man just entering into Ufe not to post 
pone to a protracted period the choice of that profession oi' 
settled plan of life to which he means to devote himself. 
Certainly no step is more important, or of more commanding- 
influence over one's future happiness, and therefore none 
requires a more calm consideration. I have long time and 
often had the subject before me, and, divesting myself of every 
bias, have repeatedly surveyed the whole field of human 
avocation to find out that course through w^hich interest and 
inclination shoidd direct me to proceed, and I am happy in 
being able clearly to pronounce my search has not been fruit- 
less, as I am fully persuaded that the ministry is the profes- 
sion to which I shoidd devote myself. It has occurred to you, 
doubtless, that I would probably look to this, either of my 
own accord or at the instance of others. And lest an impres- 
sion should be made upon you that I have followed the coun- 
sels of others rather than exercised my own judgment, I 
will here remark that it has been my studious effort to with- 
draw myself from everything of that character, in order that, 
whatever my conclusions might be, they should be entirely the 
result of my own labors. And especially have I desired this, 
as the ministry was one of the professions under considera- 
tion ; for of all otliers this is that on which we should enter 
urged alone by our own imaided inehnation. This, therefore, 
is the one of my choice. I feel that in the exercise of its 
functions I should find my greatest happiness, and this is the 
gTound of the selection. 

That it may meet the approbation of yourself and mother, 
is the earnest prayer of 

Yoi;r truly affectionate son, 

Leonidas Polk. 

This announoement w-as a serions disappointment to 

Colonel Polk, wlio had lioju'd tliat Ijoonidas might con- 


tiiiue the military traditions of the family, and perhaps 
achieve distinction as a soldier. His chief fear, however, 
seems to have been that the lad might be carried away 
by the enthusiasm of youth into a profession to which 
he was unsuited, and he wisely urged that a final deci- 
sion should be postponed until after Leonidas should 
have graduated and should have spent some time in 
travel. To this his son dutifully agreed. '' In reference 
to my determination as to an occupation for life," he 
wrote, " I can only repeat that it has not been the work 
of a moment, but of leisurely consideration. I will for- 
bear, however, from further mentioning it antil I have 
complied with your wishes." 

During the remainder of his term at West Point 
young Polk was in charge of the class of cadets which 
had just been entered at the Academy ; and it was the 
desire of Colonel Thayer and of the instructor in tactics 
that he should remain with the corps, after his gradua- 
tion, in the capacity of quartermaster. His final exam- 
inations were passed with credit, and, notwdthstanding 
the misfortune of the previous year, his name appeared 
eighth in the merit roll, which entitled him to expect a 
commission in the artillery. On July 4, 1827, he was 
graduated. In August, by his father's desire, and for 
the improvement of his health, which for some time had 
been impaired by hard study and by an acquired delicacy 
of constitution, he entered on a course of travel in 
New England, Canada, New York, and Pennsylvania, 
arriving in Tennessee in the beginning of October. His 
observations of men and things during this journey 
were communicated to his father in a series of interest- 
ing letters, in one of which he describes a raih'oad which 
he saw in Massachusetts. His description of it is as 
follows .• 

84 .l.Y EARLY liAILliOAD. [1827 

Quebec, L. C, August 22, 1827. 
Mrj dear Father: As I anticipated, I left Mcjutreal on the 
day before yesterday, and reached this 25lace on last evening. 
Among other things of interest in Boston and its vicinity, I 
saw a railroad. The object for Avhich it was first projected 
was to V)ring from a bed of granite near Quincy, about nine 
miles from Boston, stone to build the Bunker Hill monument. 
Its whole extent is about 3i miles, fi'om the bed to a canal 
leading to the sea. The inclination of the rails is about one 
in 20 inches, which enables a horse to draw an almost incred- 
ible weight with much ease. The construction is simple. It 
is the object fii'st to get the uniform inclination, which is done 
in the ordinary way, of cutting down hills and filliug valleys, 
either with the excavated earth or bridges of stone or wood. 
This done, pieces of stone about 18 inches square and 7 feet 
long are laid lengthwise across the road at intervals of nearly 
6 feet; these are embedded or not as occasion requires. 
Resting on these are laid timbers of about a foot square, for 
the wheels to run on. These last of common pine. Oak 
strips are laid on these, and on the strips bars of iron are 
fastened, to secure the whole, and form a smooth surface for 
the wheels. The wagons are of stout make, with all the 
wheels of the same size, so that in going down they hitch 
on at one end, and shift to the other when retm-ning. The 
stone is either carried on the body of the wagon or suspended 
beneath, as occasion requires. To prevent the wheels from 
slipping off, pieces of flat iron are nailed on the inside of the 
fellies and project beyond the tire about an inch, (a) is a 
section of the rim of the wheel, that is, of tlie felly, tire and 
inside band, and [h) of tliat on which 
it runs, or of the pine timber, oak strip, 
and iron bar. The work has cost an 


immense deal of money, owing to want 
of skill on the part of its projectors 
and those employed in the execution. It will, it 
is thought, though, in the course of time pay for itself and be- 
come profitable stock, as the article which passes over it has 
become popular as a building material. 


While at Boston he visited the residence of the kite 
President Adams at Quincy, which was then occupied 
by the family of Judge Thomas Adams. 

I rode out to Quincy, the residence of the late President 
Adams. It is about nine miles from Boston toward Provi- 
dence. The village of Quincy is about the size of Louisburg 
in Franklin, Ct., though more open in its suburbs, and neat 
in its construction. About a mile from its center is the house 
of Mr. Adams. I had pictured to myself a fine country-seat, 
occupying an eminence, surrounded with groves, orchards, and 
woodland, with all the appurtenances of such a place, as the 
probable residence I was to see, but found a plain, oblong, 
two-story, white house, with dormer windows, near the road, 
surrounded with fine shade-trees and fields for three quarters 
of a mile, at least. It is plain and comfortable, though nothing 
fine. The occupants are the family of Judge Thomas Adams, 
a son of the late President. He was very polite, and his lady 
particularly so. The house was shown us, with a great variety 
of paintings and busts, part of those owned by the President. 
The tomb of the family — or vault, rather — is in the town 
graveyard, near at hand, and contains his remains. It is 
simple. A mound of earth, with a door of slate-stone at one 
end, fastened with a common padlock, constitutes the whole. 

At Albany Mr. Polk paid his respects to Mr. Van 
Buren, whose son had been one of his classmates, and 
from whom he had a letter of introduction to his father. 
Of this visit he said : " The first day I was in Albany he 
had company, Mr. Ritchie, the editor, and his family, and 
others from Virginia dining with him — I called in the 
afternoon — and as I was desirous of getting on to the 
Lakes and Canada, I did not remain another day. I 
shall likely meet him again on his western tour in 

In Tennessee he visited his friends and relatives, and 
dined with General Jackson. In wr-iting to liis father 


he says : " I dined with u party of ladies aud gentlemen 
at General Jackson's about ten days since, and found 
the old general and his lady both as courteous as I could 
have wished. He entertains as easily as he well could, 
thou2:h he seems to bo immersed in business." 

Ho was now bent upon resigning his commission, and 
was desirous to do so before his furlough should expire. 
Ho therefore wrote to his father asking his approval of 
that step. He said : 

My intention at the time of setting out on the tour I have 
taken was to have comi:)leted it, spent some time vith bi'others 
Lucius, William, and Thomas each, and reached home two 
or three weeks before the 25th of October, at which time my 
furlough expires. This I wished to do to comply with a wish 
expressed by Ma, that I should see you before I resigned my 
commission, and my object vas, should it meet youi" appro- 
bation, to resign before my furlougli expired. 

In pursuance of this intention, I made due haste from the 
outset, not delaying anywhere longer than I could see all 
that was worthy of observation, and at times declining civili- 
ties which, under other circumstances, I should have been 
glad to have received. I did not perceive, until I got into 
Pennsylvania, that it would be impossible for me to meet 
my object, or, if I did, I should have to make vexy short 
stays both with my brothers and at home, and as I appre- 
hended no difficulty in obtaining your consent to my resign- 
ing, I thouglit it best to give over the original plan, forward 
my resignation through you, aud take my time in getting 
home. This, I hope, will meet your approbation. My resig- 
nation accompanies this. It is dated Raleigh, m order that 
I may receive an answer at that place. 

With his father's reluctant consent, but without his 
positive approval. Lieutenant Polk's resignation was 
forwarded to the Secretary of War, by Avhom it was 
accepted, and he prepared to enter upon liis studies for 
the ministrv. 



1828 TO 1832. 

Sacrifices in entering the ministry.— Opposition of Colonel Polk to his 
son's leaving the army. — Filial reverence. — Engaged to Miss Devereux. 
— Enters the Seniiiiary at Alexandria. — Meeting of General Jackson 
and Colonel Polk. — Mission work around Alexandria.— Visits President 
Adams.— Meets Henry Clay.— Visit to the Houses of Congress.— Visits 
James K. Polk.— The Colonization Society. — Favors deportation of 
negroes to Africa. — The spoils system. — Letter to Dr. Mcllvaine. — 
Ordained deacon.— Marriage to Miss Devereux.— Engages in the cure 
of the Monumental Church, Richmond.— First sermon.— Illness from 
overwork.— Death of Hamilton Polk.— Sympathetic letter to Colonel 
Polk.— Resigns position at Richmond.— Ordained priest.— Continued 
ill-health.— Horseback tour in Virginia.— Sails for Europe.— Reaches 
Paris. — TraveUng in France. — A Paris mob. — Leaves Paris for Brus- 
sels.— Passing the custom-house at the Dutch lines.— A sprig of 
royalty.— Fellenberg's school at Hofroyl.— Tlu-ough Switzerland and 
across the Alps into Italy.— Rome.— Custom-house experience in 
Naples.— A fashionable statue of Washington.— A royal dairyman.— 
Nice.— Preaches to sailors at Leghorn.— Return to Paris.— A plague- 
stricken city.— An attack of cholera.— Arrival in England.— From 
London to Cambridge. — King's Chapel, Cambridge.— Epping Forest 
and its annual stag-hunt.— Cockney sportsmen.— Opinion on negro 
slavery. — Oxford. — English breakfasts. — English reverence. — New 
College Chapel— Thoughts on a cathedral service.— The Liverpool and 
Manchester Railway. 

From the time when Leoiiidas Polk had deliberately 
arrived at a f^onvietion that it was his duty to enter the 
ministry of the Church, his purpose to take that step 
remained unshaken; but it must not be supposed that 
the step he was about to take involved no sacrifice. He 



was just of ag(', tall, conimanding in appearance, and 
after his successful career at the Academy there lay be- 
foi'e him every prospect of distinction in an honorable 
profession for which he was thoroughly prepared and in 
which he might hope to continue the military traditions 
of his family. His father, Colonel Polk, for whom Leon- 
idas entertained an unbounded reverence and admira- 
tion, strongly opposed his leaving the army, and in giv- 
ing his final consent he did not conceal the reluctance 
with which he yielded to the wishes of his son. The 
filial reverence which Leonidas felt for his father was 
fully reciprocated in the feeling of profound respect 
which his? father entertained for him. Consequently 
there was no unhappiness between them ; but, although 
Leonidas knew that he did not lie under his father's dis- 
pleasure, it caused him deep ^rief to know that his leav- 
ing the army to enter the Church was a bitter disappoint- 
ment to both his parents. Moreover, when still a child, 
he had fallen in love with one of his little playmates, 
Frances Devereux, of Raleigh, whom he had met again 
as an accomplished woman, and to whom he became 
formally engaged in the month of May, 1828. In after- 
years Mrs. Polk wrote : " I love to recall those days of 
the summer of 1828, just before he entered the seminary, 
when he read with me, talked with me, and took pains 
to direct my mind, which had for a while been entangled 
in a maze of perplexities and doubts." It was his earnest 
wish that their marriage should take place at once, and 
this desire would have doubtless been gratified if he had 
retained his commission in the army. But none of these 
things moved him from the coui'se to which he felt im- 
])('ll('d by an imperative sense of duty. After a brief 
emancipation fi-om the rigid discipline and constant 
lal)(»i- of West Point, he ])re]iared to enter on a new 


course of confinement in the studies of a theological 
seminary. He did indeed make an effort to induce Miss 
Devereux to marry Mm before he went there ; but she 
saw that it would be unwise, and he, with great reluct- 
ance, yielded to her judgment. Once more leaving 
home, he began his studies for the ministry in the Semi- 
nary at Alexandria, November 4, 1828. 

An amusing story of the suppressed aversion with 
which Colonel Polk regarded his son's change of profes- 
sion was told by the late venerable Colonel E. G. "W. 
Butler in a letter dated July 8, 1882 : 

" A few days before the inauguration of Andrew Jack- 
son," says Colonel Butler, " I, his godson and ward, went 
to Washington, and, on entering his chamber at the Na- 
tional Hotel, I was introduced to his old friend, Colonel 
William Polk of North Carolina. Major Donaldson, pri- 
vate secretary of the President-elect, informed me that 
when Jackson and Polk met, a few moments before I 
entered, the general shook the colonel cordially by the 
hand and remarked, ' My dear old friend, how glad I am 
to see you ! I fancy I can see your red face during Tar- 
leton's raid upon the Waxhaw settlement, when you and 
I were running down the lane, closely pursued by the 
British cavah-y ! ' ^ In the course of the conversation 
Colonel Polk informed me that he had come to Wash- 
ington to dance at the inaugural ball of his early friend ; 
and I, recollecting that his son had graduated at the 
Military Academy, inquired, ' Colonel, where is your son 
Leonidas stationed ? ' ' Stationed ? ' he replied. ' Why, 
by thunder, sir, he's over there in Alexandria at the 
Seminary ! ' " 

The period of Polk's probation as a candidate for 
orders passed uneventfully away in the Seminary. He 

1 See Chapter I., page 32. 


made no attempt to make up for the disadvantage of his 
lack of a classical education by a serious study of the 
ancient languages. His efforts in that direction were 
limited to a somewhat superficial study of the Greek 
Testament and of the elements of Hebrew. To philoso- 
phy he seems to have paid no attention. His studies in 
ecclesiastical history were meager ; in ecclesiastical polity 
they were merely nominal. He regarded the ministry as 
a sort of military service, in which the minister had sim- 
ply to obey orders and deliver the Commandei-'s mes- 
sage. He was beset by no doubts of the Christian reh- 
gion ; he took it for granted that the evangeUcalism of 
his beloved pastor, Mcllvaine, was the only true message 
of the gospel, and he applied himself with entire devo- 
tion to the study of evangelical theology. In after-years 
he outgTCw not a little of the narrowness of evangelical- 
ism ; if he did not repudiate, he studiously ignored, 
Calvinism; and by a sort of sympathetic instinct he 
clearly apprehended and cordially embraced the idea of 
the historic constitution and corporate continuity of the 
Church. But at that time he sat at the feet of his 
instructors with an unquestioning confidence in the 
authority and sufficiency of their teachings, and his one 
anxiety was to prepare himself as soon as possible to 
teach the same things to others. His only relaxation 
while at the Seminary was in mission work in the neigh- 
borhood of Alexandria; and during his vacation his 
time w-as happily spent in explaining to his betrothed 
the evangelical truths which he himself had learned. 

Throughout his Seminary course Mr. Polk kept up a 
constant correspondence \\dth his father, in which he 
WTote of persons and incidents in which he knew that 
his father would be interested, avoiding any special 
reference to his own pursuits, to which he knew that his 

^t. 221 HENRY CLAY. 91 

father had not yet become reconciled. Thus, on the day- 
after he had become permanently settled at the Semi- 
nary, he wrote as follows, describing the situation of the 
Seminary, mentioning a visit which he had made to the 
President, and a chance meeting- with Mr. Clay, regret- 
ting the condition of the White House, and referring 
playfully to the birth of his father's ninth son, for whom 
he apprehends some difficulty in finding a sufficiently 
heroic name. 

Theological Seminary, Nov. 5, 1828. 

I became permanently fixed at the Seminary on yester- 
day, and find the place and its advantages altogether such 
as I expected. The situation of the Seminary building, for 
commanding a wide and extensive range up and down the 
Potomac, including Alexandi-ia, Washington, and George- 
town, is one of the most beautiful (so say experienced trav- 
elers) in any country. We are about two miles off directly 
to the right from the river and from Alexandria, and about 
six or seven from Washington and Georgetown. The Capitol 
and President's house are very plainly seen from my window 
as I now sit writing. With the help of a glass, the '' mem- 
bers" may be seen going up into the building, though I don't 
know that they can be distinguished individually. 

While in Washington during the session of the Education 
Society of our church, I called, with two other gentlemen, 
to see the President. We Avere ushered into a sort of ante- 
chamber until the servant could know if we could see him. 
While in waiting, Mr. Clay came out of the President's room, 
and gave those of us who had not before the pleasure of his 
acquaintance an opportunity of knowing him. Mr. Clay is a 
man of uncommonly imposing manners, tall, dignified, affable, 
eas3", and very intelligent looking ; he received us with much 
grace. He inquired after your health, having first asked me 
if I was your son, and said he had the pleasure of traveling 
with you some years since, perhaps in Virginia. Mr. Adams, 
to whom we were soon after introduced, is as awkward as 
Mr. Clay is easy. He seems to have been in bad health. I 


suppose perhaps the harassing electioneering toui* has wasted 
him away. 

The buildings and grounds about the President's house 
geem going to destruction, and some of the rooms, one es- 
pecially, has never been furnished. It is a broad, long room 
and looks more Hke parsimony in the government than any- 
thing I have ever seen. 

By a letter from Mary I heard of the amval of my little 
brother, and as General Jackson is the last of tlie line of 
heroes and sages, I fear he will find some difficulty in get- 
ting a name! 

Later on he expresses his satisfaction that a suitable 
name for his infant brother has been found, and de- 
scribes a visit to Washington : 

Theological Seminary, Nov. 21, 1828. 

I have received youi" letter of the 10th, and one from Ma 
of the same date also. I think the name Charles Adams 
very suitable, — more so, perhaps, than any other, especially 
as that side of the house seems to have been neglected. I 
am glad too that he is a son, — not that I have objection to 
ha\'ing sisters, but there seems to be less difficulty and risk 
in the education and lives of boys than girls. Nine sons, too, 
make up a goodly number. 

About two weeks since I was in Washington for a short 
time. The Houses were in session. It was the first time I 
had ever seen them sitting. Mr. Stephenson, the Speaker 
of the House, seemed to preside with a good deal of dignity 
and dispatch of business. In his manner not unlike Mr. B. 
Yancey, I think, — quick, and sometimes hasty. The Speaker 
of the other House — Mr. Smith, I think — is, on the contrary, 
easy and rather tame. He is an old and venerable-looking 
man. While in the House I heai*d a member introduce and 
speak on a resolution '' to appoint a commission for each State 
in the Union, to ascertain what works of internal improvement 
were necessary, and annually to report to Congress the result 
of the inquiries." I did not know who he was. He was a 


young member, of prominent cheek-bones, face altogether 
strongly marked, hght hair, of a stentorian voice, which made 
the hall ring, or rather thunder, and of a gesticulation strong 
and powerful as a blacksmith's. I heard afterward he was 
Mr. Chilton of Kentucky. 

James K. Polk [afterward elected President of the United 
States] I met in the avenue. He has his wife and sister 
OpheMa with him. They belong to a mess with several 
of the Louisburg delegation, with whom I spent the evening. 
They are all exceedingly gratified at the result of the Presi- 
dential election,! of course, and James thinks he will probably 
leave public life after the general's term of service expires. 
He says none of the friends of the general have the smallest 
idea who he will appoint to fill his Cabinet offices. 

At that time the Colonization Society was making a 
iiol)le but nnsuccessfnl attempt to grapple with the 
slavery problem. Like many other Sonthern men, j\Ir. 
Polk was in hearty sympathy with the objects of the 
society, and fully expressed his views of it in a letter to 
Ills father : 

January 21, 1829. 
I went last Saturday to Washington, to the annual meeting 
of the Colonization Society. The day — or rather the night — ■ 
was rainy and the meeting, which took place at six P.M., was 
not so well attended as usual. A report of the Board of Mana- 
gers was read, showing the colony to be more flourishing 
than it has ever been, and as much so as the means of the so- 
ciety, though greatly increased, would allow. They have 
had an accession of territory, and emigi-ants are on better 
tenns with the neighboring tribes than they have ever been, 
and are beginning to understand and practice successfully 
the principles of self-government. Their schools are flourisli- 
ing, and, from the list of articles of agricidtui'c and trade 
mentioned in the report as abounding in the colony, they 
seem to possess all that any people could desire for personal 

■ (Jcocral Jackson's first clectiou. 


comfort or exchange. The only obstacle to the success of the 
colony — so far as the country in which it is, is concerned — is 
that it is at first unhealthy for those coming from the northern 
part of the United States. Those south of a line drawn east 
and west, and passing between Washington and Baltimore, 
stand the cUmate very wellj almost all north of that line 
have to undergo a sort of preparation by taking medicine, 
and afterward they live in it very well. The society seems 
to have gained during the past year many distinguished 
friends — particularly in Virginia. There was a State society 
formed in Virginia not long since (at the head of which was 
Judge Marshall), and also several active auxiharies. After 
the report was finished, Mr. Mercer of Virginia made a 
speech compUmentiug the friends of the society on the pros- 
perous state of things it exhibited, etc., during which he 
noticed the progress of the society under all its discourage- 
ments. He is a very easj' and gi'aceful speaker, and veiy 
fluent. A Mr. Key of Georgetown also spoke on a resolution 
to erect a monument to the memory of then- late agent, Mr. 
Ashman, who seems, under ProAddence, to have been the 
main founder of their settlement. Mr. Stores of New York 
and Mr. Clay also spoke, with sundry others of less note. 
Mr. Clay presented and spoke on a resolution thanking the 
ladies of the United States who had dm-ing the past year 
taken an active interest in the aid of the society, and espe- 
cially those of PetersbuT'g, Richmond, and Georgetown. He 
seems to have been, from the fonnation of the society, its 
warm friend, and said he well recollected some years since 
when ten or a dozen gentlemen met in a small room to form 
it ; then, rapidly sketching the progress of the society, he 
spoke of its certain success, from being supported by most of 
the intelligent and benevolent of the country, the great ad- 
vantages held out to emigrants in Africa, and the inducements 
they have to leave this country. The number of apphcants 
for transportation greatly exceeds the means of the society. 
There are now about six hundred. The plan seems to be 
feasible, and indeed has been shown to be entirely so. AU 
that is wanting to remove not only the blacks that are free, 


but those that are enslaved also, is the consent of their 
owners and funds to transport them. There is land sufficient 
and productive to support them ; and as to climate, fortunately 
the great body of blacks are in that part of the Union from 
which they experience least inconvenience in Africa. Now I 
believe in the course of not many years one State after an- 
other will be willing to abohsli slavery. This is proved by 
the state of things in Maryland and Vix-ginia, the slave States 
farthest north, and from a variety of motives funds enough 
will be raised to gradually transport them. 

I attended the debates in the House of Representatives on 
the Georgian claims, and on a resolution to require the elec- 
tion of several oificers of the House — public printer among 
others — to be viva voce. This, James Polk told me, was intro- 
duced by one of the Jackson party to elect the editor of Tlie 
Telegraph, which they are fearful they cannot do if the vote 
of each member is not known. I heard a speech of Mr. Bar- 
ringer in opposition to it, which sounded quite like the legis- 
lature of North Carolina. 

I saw Governor Iredell for a few moments, who gave mc 
the latest intelligence I have had from home. 

James Polk showed me a letter from a correspondent under 
General Jackson which he had just received, stating that the 
general, though deeply distressed at Mrs. Jackson's death, was 
well, and would travel by the most direct route to Washinglon 
in January or February. 

On hearing that his father intended to be present at 
the inauguration of General Jackson, he wrote : 

February 10, 1829. 
I was gratified to hear from Ma that you Avould be in 
Washington on the 4th of March,^ and hope that your ar- 
rangements will enable you to do so, taking Alexandria in your 
way, or at least that you will let me know when you will be 
in Washington. From the universal excitement which seems 
to pervade the country, I suppose the throng will be greater 
1 For Jacksou'ii inauguration. 


than on any such occasion before ; and to secure comfortable 
lodgings, therefore, I should think it well, either to get to 
the city early or apprise some friend of your coming. You 
will hardly be able to come up the Potomac, as it is, and has 
been at intervals, either frozen over, or so filled with floating 
ice as to keep the steamboats from running regularly. And 
this I regret, as the stage route — should you come by stage — 
is at this season very uncomfortable and rugged. General 
Jackson wished, I understood, to have us parade on his get- 
ting to the city ; he was expected to be there on the 8th. I 
have not heard of his arrival. 

In the month of Jnne he expressed to liis father the 
feeling of astonishment wntli which lie and others re- 
garded the ag-gi-essive development of the spoils system 
in the public service by General Jackson. 

I have not been to Washington — except to pass through 
merely — since I was there with you, though our proximity en- 
ables me to hear of most of the things of interest that pass. 
I do not know how others may have been affected, but the 
proscriptions of the general, from party considerations merely, 
of many of his fellow-citizens of unimpeachable character, 
seem hardly consistent with the generous and dignified 
course I expected fx'om him. His descending to the removal 
of petty postmasters in obscure parts of the country seems 
hardly suitable employment for the head of so great a nation, 
whose very station must furnish ample business of a more 
elevated and altogether more useful character. Were I a 
politician, I fear that I would find in the administration thus 
far enough to shake my Jackson principles. 

During the summer of 1829 INlr. Polk had occasion to 
use his influence with the administration in the correc- 
tion of a wrong done by excessive severity in discipline 
at West Point. It will be remembered that he had 
himself suffered, while a cadet, by an act of discipline to 
which he submitted, but the justice of which he never 

7E{. 2;i] A FBIEXn IX NEED. 97 

ceased to deii}", holding that the inequality of punish- 
ment administered to different persons for identically 
the same offense was utterly unjust. Wliile at the 
Seminary he was visited by a young man who had not 
indeed been blameless, but who had been expelled from 
the Academy for faults which had been far more lightly 
punished in the case of other cadets. Taking the case 
in hand, Mr. Polk visited the President to ask, not for 
mercy, but for even-handed justice on the ground of the 
established usage of the Academy. He narrates the 
circumstance to his father in the following letter : 

Henry Hawkins called on me last Saturday. Having writ- 
ten in reply to his request, advising him not to go on fur- 
lough, I was surprised to meet him, and was afraid to ask his 
business. He soon told me, however, that he had been dis- 
charged from the Academy for deficiency in mathematics. 
This was a terrible shock, for the poor fellow seemed greatly 
mortified, and his whole prospects were blasted. He told me 
that a great number had been found deficient in the different 
classes, and eight perhaps of his own class, some for conduct, 
some for French or drawing, or mathematics, and some for 
all. Among the latter number was a son of General Brown, 
who had, notwithstanding, been retained at the Academy, 
with a promise that he should be permitted to join the next 
class. A son of Swartouts [Collector of the Port of New 
York, perhaps] was deficient in several bi'anches also, and 
had been retained. This gave Henry a claim on the govern- 
ment for a like privilege ; and I went with him forthwith to 
the Pi'esident, stated his case to liim, and desired his restora- 
tion wholly on the ground of estnhlished usage in such cases. His 
conduct had been better than that of one half the corps ; he 
was young when he was admitted (too young) ; and he had 
been found deficient but in one liranch. All these are con- 
siderations which the government lias been in the habit of 
regarding in the cases of young men who have been dis- 
charged heretofore, and who have applied for reinstatement. 


He referred Henry to the Secretary of War, stating? to him in 
a letter that, if it was proper, he desired his return. Tlie 
Secretary required him to lay his case before him in writing, 
which he did, and received for answer that he should be re- 
stored, Avith pei*mission to go on with the next class. So he is 
again a cadet, with a severe lesson, which I trust and believe 
has so impressed him that he will never forget it. 

At this time Mr. Polk's brother Hamilton, who was 
then a stndent at Yale, was obliged to leave college on 
account of ill-health. He visited Leonidas at the Semi- 
nary on his way home. Every effort to ajTest the pro- 
gress of the fatal malady of eonsum|)ti()n was fruitless, 
and in the following spring Leonidas thought it neces- 
sary to prepare his parents for the probably ine\'itable 
end by the following letter : 

Sunday, I\Lirch 3, 1830. 
Ml/ dear Mother : Hamilton, I suppose, lets you hear from 
him as he proceeds on his journey. Mary said she would let 
me know something of his route and whei'e he would expect 
letters that I might write to him. Through a letter from 
brother William the other day, I heard of his having passed 
through Salisbury ; the direction of his route was not men- 
tioned. I should be glad to know it, and would write to him. 
Poor fellow, I cannot but follow him with great interest, and 
allowing his case not to be, as I timst it is not now, hazardous, 
yet he may have, and undoubtedly he has, the appeai-ance of 
having the seeds of our famdy malady sown within him. A 
recognition of tliis fact is at best painful, but I confess I do 
not see the wisdom of putting away from our minds the con- 
templation of things as things are and must be. There is, it 
is true, much satisfaction in the thought that we and ours 
shall be retained in being as we are, yielding and I'eceiving 
mutual kindnesses, and ministering to the relief of each 
other's cares and woes, uninteiTupted by disease or death ; 
but to build on such a foundation is to buUd on the sand. 
The whole fabric is unstable, and to persuade ourselves that 


it is firm is to conjure up a delusion which staj's and represses 
our alarms for a ^Yllile only, to poui' upon us a double portion 
of afiSiction when the truth must come. Thus I reason with 
regard to all my earthly attachments, and while to enjoy and 
cultivate them is one of the happiest of this world's employ- 
ments, it is the highest wisdom to be familiar with the fact 
that they must cease ; and not only so, but to be willing and 
ready to rehnquish them with resignation and submission. 
They may all go and leave us behind, or we may go and leave 
them, when and how we know not. Death's approach is like 
that of a thief in the night, at our hand sometimes when we 
little expect it ; and yet there is a condition in which, if we 
live, such a \dsitation must be the herald of peace rather than 
dismay. Instead of the withering decree, ^' Cut it down, why 
cumbereth it the ground ? " it is in our power to be joyful re- 
cipients of the thrilhng invitation, " Come, ye blessed of my 
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you fi'om the foun- 
dation of the world." JMy prayer, dear mother, is that the 
minds of all the members of owx dear family may be disabused 
as to the real state of things, and that we may all be eternally 
happy. I would not weary you with such frequent and, you 
may think, rather urgent remarks as I have occasionally 
made touching eternity. I would make my correspondence 
and my Avhole intercourse with you and my dear father no 
otherwise remarkable than so far as they may eontril)ute to 
the peace and ease of your declining years. In the survey of 
my past life nothing so much pains me as the recollection of 
occasions when, from misjudgment or the criminal impetu- 
osity of my naturally ardent disposition, I have done or said 
things which must have pained you. I entreat you to ei'ase 
the recollection of them from your memory, and believe me 
most truly desirous of your affection and approbation and 

P^ * Truly and affectionately youi* son, 

L. Polk. 

About the same time he wrote to his friend, Dr. Mc- 
Ilvaine, of his occupations in the Seminary and of his 
approaching ordination. 


Great harmony and yood tVeling prevail anujng the stu- 
dents (fifteen in number, all candidates fur orders and in full 
standing), six of whom will be ordained during the approach- 
ing spring. Our little meetings in the neighborhood aie 
pretty well attended, and occasionally mnch feeling and in- 
terest are manifested. As a specimen of this interest, the 
meeting I have attended during the past year has resolved to 
build a neat brick chapel for its use, and above three hun- 
dred dollars have been subscribed for that purpose. It wiU 
look for its supply of ministei's to the students of the Semi- 
nary as generation follows generation. 

We have been highly gratified with the exhibition of the 
spmt of missions recently manifested in your parish. "We 
have foiTued a society in the Seminary, and another in the 
Alexandria churches is shortly to be raised, which it is hoped 
will afford its full quota of funds to the mother society. A 
very good spirit, we leara, is abroad in the congregations. 

The Lord willing, I shall apply for orders in April. I 
shall be likely to be ordained by Bishop Moore in Richmond. 
Whither I shall go, I know not. And now, my dear brother, 
I shall in an especial manner want yoixr prayers and covmsel. 
Your superior experience has already been of lasting benefit 
to me, and I earnestly hope it may not be withheld while we 
shall together labor in the cause of our blessed Master. I 
•would seek so to pass through things temporal as not to lose 
sight of things eternal, and I would strive to set forward the 
cause of God and the salvation of multitudes of my djdng fel- 
low-creatures. In looking about me, I find the field white 
with the harvest in every direction, and I am only solicitous 
to know my appropriate station. 

In the "little iiieeting-s" of which lie WTote in this 
letter, Mr. Polk had found the first field of his labors. 
The "■ ueat brick chapel " was tlieir first result ; and it 
is probable that the neti\'ity of the foreiijn missionary 
'' society in the Se:n:narv and another in tlie Alexandria 
clini'clics " was more l;tri,n"l\" 'I'lc to liis inthu'iu'c tlian 

^Et. 213] FAMILY KELATIOKS. 101 

liis modesty allowed him to ])erceive. But he was eag'er 
to be admitted to ordei-s, and to engage in the full work 
of the ministry ; and Dr. Mellvaine, who was then about 
to visit Europe, wrote to request that, as soon as he 
should be ordained, he would take charge of his congre- 
gation in Brooklyn. This offer Mr. Polk was compelled 
to decline, as he had already been requested by Bishop 
Meade to remain in Virginia to assist Bishop Moore in 
the parochial charge of the Monumental Church, Rich- 

It had been understood that the marriage of Mr. Polk 
should take place soon after his ordination, and in an- 
nouncing that he expected to be ordained somewhat 
before the close of his second year at the Seminary he 
thought it right once more to give expression to the 
depth of conviction by which he was actuated in taking 
a step which his father had not even yet cordially ap- 
proved. At the same time he expressed his anxiety that 
his brothers, who were all manly, upright men, might 
not be estranged from him. They were by no means 
irreligious men, but they were fond of sports, and some 
of them were particularly interested in the breeding of 
race-horses. It was not open antagonism or disrespect 
that Leonidas apprehended from these warm-hearted 
country gentlemen, but rather, perhaps, a good-humored 
jocularity concerning sacred things which it would be 
wrong for him to permit and painful to rebuke. There 
is a subtle indication of the inward sympathy existing 
between him and his father in the tacit appeal to the 
latter to prevent a possible but painful result of a course 
which he himself had deprecated. 

I regi'etted, when I parted with you, the idea of not seeing 
you again before you left the State, and particularly on an 


occasion so iuteresting to me as my marriago, and I have been 
balanoino: in my mind repeatedly during the fall and winter 
the feasibility of preparing for orders earlier than I antici- 
pated. That I might spend some months longer in study with 
advantage is certain. But as 1 had concluded to present my- 
self for ordination about the middle of May, and in a theolog- 
ical course as a fcAv weeks longer or shorter could not be of 
material consequence, I have concluded, at your suggestion, 
to endeavor to get home by the last of April. This will cause 
me to request ordination of Bishop Moore in Richmond on 
my way home. I am much pleased with the prospect of meet- 
ing brother Lucius, whom I may not see again for many 

And now, my dear father, I desire to say, with reference to 
the course I have determined to pursue during my life on 
earth, that I am moved to it by the soberest convictions of 
my judgment under the guidance, as I firmly believe, of the 
supreme Governor of the Universe, and that, after again and 
again revolving in my mind the ground of my confidence in 
these opinions, I am but the more thoroughly persuaded of 
their truth and stability. Believing as I do, after mature 
deliberation, that there neither is nor can be any reasonable 
ground of hope for happiness in eternity but in the belief 
and practice of tlie doctrines and duties of the Christian 
religion, and that all, therefore, who fail of this must be lost, 
I feel constrained by a regard for the welfare of my fellow- 
creatures, and in honor of our common Maker, whose worship 
and service we by nature so little regard, to use the time and 
talents allotted me on earth in unfolding and explaining the 
scheme of redemption, and in urging its acceptance. This I 
believe to be my ob^aous and unavoidable duty, and in enter- 
ing on its performance my earnest desire is completely to dis- 
entangle myself from all other concerns which may in any 
wise interfere with its faithful discharge, and of coui'se, there- 
fore, to concern myself no further with worldly affairs than is 
really necessary. This course differs wholly from that pur- 
sued by any of my brothers Avho have preceded me, though 
not more than the motives which have governed our sev- 


eral conclusions. And, for myself, I can only say that I am 
truly conscientious and sincere ; and tbat my motives will 
be appreciated by my friends, I cannot but humbly hope and 
believe. The relation into which I shall be brought to them 
will be novel and in some respects perhaps a painful one, for, 
however nearly allied and dear to me they may be by ties of 
natural affection, I could never lose sight of their relation to 
God, nor of my obligations to be faitlif ul to Him ; and though 
these two things ought not ever to be found opposed to each 
other, yet possibly they might be, in which case they, being 
unable to enter into my views or feel the force of my cir- 
cumstances, could neither explain my conduct nor excuse 
me from censure. That this may never occur is my sincere 
desire, but more particularly, my dear father, that such a 
change may be effected in our relative conditions as entirely 
to forbid the possibility of its occurrence. These things I 
have thought it a duty frankly and affectionately to express 
to you, and that no occasion was more favorable or becoming 
than the present. 

On Good Friday, April 9, 1830, Mr. Polk was ordained 
deacon in Ricliniond. 

On May 6, 1830, he married Miss Devereux, and soon 
afterward returned to Richmond to enter on his duties 
as assistant to Bishop Moore in the cure of the Monu- 
mental Church. The following letter to Mr. Mcllvaine 
gives an account of his Richmond ministry : 

Richmond, July 21, 1830. 
My dear Brother : I have been long promising myself the 
pleasure of complying with your request to give you an 
account of my ordination, first preachings, etc., and, although 
several months have elapsed since I was ordained, 1 have not 
found myself altogether prepared for it. You left the coun- 
try so soon after writing me that I could not write you at 
Brooklyn, and I have been so situated as not to hear a word 
of you since you sailed, where you were, would be, etc. I was 


ordained on Good Friday, and presented by Brother Robert- 
son, who was here on behalf of the Greeks. I preached on 
the Sunday following from John iii. 16: "God so loved the 
world," etc., my first sermon ; and, though not very well, and 
much excited, I was gi-aciously sustained and comforted in 
the delivery of my message. The l^ishop was about to leave 
on a trip to Norfolk and the Eastern Shore, and liad re- 
quested me to fill his pulpit until his return. I consented, and 
remained, and preached on the two following Sundays j in the 
nioming from Hebrews xii. 14: " Without holiness," etc., and 
from James ii. 18 : " Shew me thy faith Avithout," etc, I found 
myself very much fettered by my notes, and could not help 
feeling that the congregation listened as to a written essay 
rather than to a spirited heartfelt appeal from the gospel. I 
hope time will make it otherwise, and enable me to read 
freely. For it is dispu-iting labor now, and I do not feel able, 
in my present situation, to extemporize. I went from this to my 
liome, and in a few days after received a call from the vestiy 
to assist the bishop. The way seemed to have been so plainly 
opened before me that I could not but regard it as my duty to 
accept. I did so accordingly, and after remaining at home 
over three Sabbaths, I retm-ned and entered upon the duties 
of the parish. Thus has terminated my pathway into the 
ministiy ; thus has been consummated the design which I 
humbly trust was formed with an eye single to my duty as a 
servant of Christ. And, oh, that I may not have been 
deceived, and that new evidence may break in upon me of my 
liaA'ing been indeed moved by the Spirit ! 

Tlie congi'egation is large, and the fashionable congrega- 
tion of the city. We have, therefore, spmts of every grade 
and character to deal with. About one hundred and thirty 
communicants, few males, and these mostly old men. I do 
not find many of these decidedly and actively pious. The 
bond of Clu-istian fellowship is not so sti-ong (a fault in some 
degi'ee, I have thought, common to our Church, is it not ?) as 
the gospel requires, and as it is sometimes seen to exist. " I 
pray thee. Father, that they may be one, as we are." We 
have the usual societies, education, foreign and domestic mis- 

^t. 24] IMPAIBED HEALTH. 105 

sions,— they are pretty active, I believe; a weekly lecture 
conducted by the bishop, during the day ; and we are now 
about to get up a monthly concert. There are two other 
Episcopal churches here, Peet (brother of your superintend- 
ent) and Lee (son of E. Lee of Alexandria) ministers. They 
are both good men and disposed to lay hold of every means 
likely to be efficiently useful. The bishop is getting old, and 
is for peace. He is cautious and admits new plans and means 
with difficulty, though he is very kind and affectionate. He 
leaves for the North in a day or two, and will be gone all 
summer. I feel very deeply, at times, distressed and .de- 
pressed, under a sense of the magnitude of my work. I feel 
inadequate to the instruction of such a congregation, and 
often realize the force and necessity of St. Paul's exhortation 
to Timothy, " Let no man despise thy youth." I trust I am 
not ignorant of the way to be saved, but to present it so as 
to command attention and constrain obedience is beyond my 
power, and I know, too, that uU poicer is of God, which im- 
presses effectually. I now feel that an interview with you 
would greatly encourage and strengthen me. Your counsels 
are at all times very valuable to me. Can you find time from 
your valuable engagements to drop me a few hints'? It re- 
joices me to know that the desire of your heart, so long enter- 
tained, to be in the midst of the great Jerusalem of the world 
where the tribes go up, has been satisfied, and that you have 
beheld, with your own eyes, the mighty men whom the Lord 
is employing in regenerating the earth. 

We are looking to your visit, with that of the excellent doc- 
tor, to be of immense benefit to our Zion on this side of the 
water. You cannot but reap a large harvest of information, 
both general and particular. 

I would thank you to notice such books as woidd be valua- 
ble to me. As yet I have no library. Can you procure for 
me a copy of " The Fathers of the Church"? 

Mr. Polk's health had been somewhat impaired by 
severe study at the Seminary. Soon after his ordination 
Bishop Moore went to the North, leaving liim alone in 


charge of tlie congregation. His strength was over- 
taxed; but, in spite of serious indisposition, he kept 
steadily at work until he was taken dangerously ill. 

On his recovery in September he went to Raleigh to 
be with his brother Hamilton, who had come home from 
Yale College, only, as the event proved, to die. After one 
of their conversations, in which Leonidas had avoided 
anything that seemed hke preaching, Hamilton turned, 
to him and said, " Brother Leonidas, you are very kind, 
you are always with me ; do you think I am going to 
die ? " Leonidas hesitated for some moments, and then, 
in the gentlest manner, told him the truth. For some 
time — perhaps for an hour — the dying youth was silent. 
At length he said, quite calmly, "I am going into a 
world of which I know nothing — can you tell me any- 
thing of that world, and how I am to prepare for it ? " 
Then "right joyfully" the young deacon preached 
" Jesus Christ and him crucified " to his dying brother. 
The bishop often afterward spoke of the intense eager- 
ness with which his brother, diu-ing his few remaining 
days, Ustened and asked questions. Leonidas never left 
him, night or day, sleeping only a few moments, now 
and then, by his side, so that he might always be at hand 
when his brother was disposed to converse. At length 
he baptized him, and when all was over he fulfilled his 
brother's last request to read the burial service of the 
Church over his grave. After these tender ministries, 
and the great sorrow which closed them, Mr. Polk re- 
turned to Richmond, feebler than before. 

The loss mentioned in the following letter, An-itten 
soon after the death of Hamilton, is that of his brother 
Charles, a promising child of two years of age, the 
choice of whose name had been a subject of affectionate 
pleasantr}' : 

^t. 24] DEATH AND ETERNITY. 107 

Richmond, November 4, 1830. 
Mij dear Father: I have received both your letters of the 
10th and 18th, and do most deeply sympathize with you and 
my dear mother under your severe bereavement. To have 
lost one son under the distressing cu'cumstances which at- 
tended the case of poor H., however alleviated by the assur- 
ance that he was benefited by the change, was seriously 
afflictive 5 but, before this wound had lost its freshness, to 
have to sustain another in a strange land, in the person of 
such an engaging and lovely boy, must have been almost in- 
supportable. But, my dear father, the hand of Death must, 
sooner or later, be laid upon us all, however engaging or 
tenderly loved. And while the reflection that we do but suf- 
fer the common lot of all the living may make you feel as if 
you were not alone in your soitows, you may doubtless have 
the assurance, also, that every stroke which diminishes our 
number does but draw those who are left the more closely to 
you. I feel this, and doubt not it is felt in common by us all. 
But I cannot forbear the reflection that, however iinited and 
cordial our affections may be, and however grateful to our 
parents, the demonstrations we have just had prove most 
painfully that oui" happiness must be founded upon a more 
enduring basis. Our children and our parents are sources of 
great comfort and happiness to us ; but, alas ! they are mor- 
tal — they cannot abide with us, nor we with them. And 
there is not, nor can be, any security or permanency in our 
union but that which is founded on a common interest in the 
inheritance of the real Christian beyond the grave. Should 
we all possess this, our separation at death must be but tem- 
porary, our sorrows at parting the soitows of those " who 
are not without hope," and our reunions positive and eternal. 
And I cannot but feel that you will excuse me, my dear fa- 
ther, though a son, for placing before you these things, and 
affectionately m-ging and entreating your attention to them 
as the only source of consolation under the distresses to 
which we are subject here, and the only ground of hope here- 
after. Many, indeed, are the resorts to which we may betake 
ourselves to drown sorrow or assuage grief, and many pleas- 


ing delusions of protracted days and eternal safety may lull 
oiu* fears and quiet our apprehensions; but the experience — 
the repeated experience — of ages has too often shown the 
one to be unsubstantial, and the Word of God most solemnly 
"warns and cautions us against the other. Only under the 
fatherly protection of the Almighty Parent of the Universe, 
secui-ed to us through the mediation of Jesus Christ and by 
the agency of his Spmt, are safety and true peace to be found. 
I have no higher wish than that while these blessings are 
strewed around with such a bountiful hand, and so many are 
gathering them, my o\vn dear parents and brothers may not 
be neglected; nor can there be any period moi'e favorable 
than when our minds have been awakened to the vanity of 
earthly hopes by an afl&ictive, though friendly, visitation from 
above, as the cares of the world and the hand of Time will 
certainly obliterate our impressions and sink us again into a 
fatal security. My dear father, bear with yom* son, who has 
no other earthly motive than yoiu* highest happiness when he 
reminds you of youi* very protracted old age, the certainty of 
death, the immense and boundless eternity before you, and 
the absolute necessity of a Christian character in order to en- 
sure your happiness. May the Great and Mighty Being, be- 
fore whom we must stand, graciously assist us all ! 

Your affectionate son, 

L. Polk. 

On January 27, 1831, Mr. Polk's first child was born, 
— a son, whom he called Hamilton, after the brother he 
had lost. It had been hoped that the winter would bring 
relief to his protracted illness ; but the hope was disap- 
pointed, and, as the spring opened, his family and friends 
were filled with apprehension. In April ho considered it 
his duty to resign his position at Richmond ; and after 
taking his wife and child to her father's home in Raleigh, 
he returned to Virginia to attend the Diocesan Conven- 
tion at Norfolk, where he was ordained priest in May, 
1831. He then rejoined Mrs. Polk at Raleigh, but re- 

iEt.25] SAILS FOE EUROPE. 109 

maiued witli her only a fortnight. Travel on horseback 
by easy stages was prescribed for him, and about the 
middle of June he rode through Virginia to Alexandria, 
and thence, with his friend Dr. Keith, to Philadelphia. 
O21 considting a physician in Philadelphia, he was told 
he had but a few months to live. He then consulted 
Doctors Chapman and Jackson, who advised a sea-voyage 
and European travel, but they urged his immediate de- 
parture. Acting on this advice, he went at once to New 
York, and on the 8th of August, 1831, he sailed for 

After a stormy voyage of twenty days, nineteen of 
which he passed in his berth, suffering all the miseries 
of seasickness, Mr. Polk landed in Havre on the 28th of 
August. Thence he went by diligence to Paris, where he 
remained six weeks, taking medical advice and seeing 
much that interested him. He was reassured by the 
opinion of the celebrated Chomel that, though possibly 
overtaxed, his lungs were not affected with disease. Con- 
sequently, all he had to do was to enjoy his leisure, leav- 
ing nature in her own way to effect a cure. As soon as 
he wa,s settled in quarters, he wrote his father as follows. 
The letter is suggestive both to the farmer and the poli- 

Paris, September IS, 1831. 

3Iy dear Father: Before the receipt of this you will, of 
course, have been apprised of my absence from America and 
the cause of it. I am happy in being able to say that I seem to 
have experienced benefit from my voyage, — at least, it seems 
now to begin to appear. At first, shortly after landing, I was 
not well. My pain has since abated, my color become better, 
strength increased, and I am much less nervous. I trust that 
my health may be again entirely restored. 

Our voyage was short, only twenty-one days, and on the 
whole quite as agreeable as I had reason to expect ; at times 

110 A PARIS MOB. [1831 

it was delightful, then wretchedly miserable. We landed at 
Havre de Grace, then passed along the border of the Seine 
to Rouen and up to Paris in a huge, misshapen coach, called 
by a singular misnomer, " diligence." This vehicle consists 
of three apartments, all joined together, and upon the same 
level, extending, when on the wheels, well nigh the full length 
of a road wagon. It is in fact three coaches fastened to- 
gether. The baggage is all carried on the top, and it is capable 
of accommodating about twenty or thirty persons. Persons 
often ride on the top. In approaching Paris and throughout 
the whole route from the sea-shore, indeed, we passed through 
a beautiful country all under cultivation. The grounds seem 
well tilled, though entirely open, without fences ; occasionally, 
but rarely, a hedge. 

It was harvest, the grain was lying in shocks on the ground, 
pUed, I observed, on the sides of the shock, and not the ends, 
as with us. I was struck with the honesty of the people in not 
troubling the fruit which hung plentifully on the ti'ees and 
vines quite on the roadside, unprotected. This is the season 
of the \dntage also. Their grapes are delightful, and in great 
abundance. The pears and peaches are also very fine and 
well flavored, as also the strawbemes. Finer peaches I have 
never seen anywhere. 

I am lodging comfortably in the part of Paris where I have 
been for near a fortnight. I may remain as long, or longer, 
before going down farther to the south, where I propose 
spending the winter. I shaU winter probably in Italy near 
Naples. This nation, you will remember, has been revolution- 
ized since I saw you ; it is still not contented with the order 
of things ; and on hearing of the fall of Warsaw, the strong- 
hold of the struggling Poles, the outciy against the Ministry 
was very loud and threatening. This happened night before 
last. The mob passed under my window to the house of the 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, where they called for the Minis- 
ter ; the doors were closed and bamcaded ; they pelted the 
house with stones, broke the windows, etc. The excitement 
continued through the night and has done so up to this period. 
Yesterdav the mob was more violent than to-dav. Everv 

iEt. 25] CmSIS IN EUROPE. Ill 

effort is made on the part of the government to quell it; 
whether they will succeed is doubtful. Things are by no 
means settled. The government has not the confidence of the 
people. The poorer classes are in great distress. The money- 
holders will not invest their capital, and many of the wealthy 
have either gone into the country or left France, so that few 
purchases are made beyond the articles of immediate neces- 
sity. The Liberals fear that, now the affairs of Belgium are 
settled and Poland fallen, the Great Powers will turn their 
attention to France, and combine to put down the existing 
and restore the former government. 

The whole of Euroj^e is, indeed, in a critical condition, and 
may in a month — or at any moment, indeed — be involved in 
a general war. 

We cannot be too grateful that so vast an expanse of water 
separates us from the broils and misrule of this region of 
crowned heads. 

His diary shows that his thoughts were never diverted 
by the attractions of the gay capital from what had be- 
come the controlling influence and purpose of his life. 
On Sunday, October 2d, after attending divine service, 
he writes : 

The minister may be undoubtedly styled evangelical. He 
preached at half past eleven A.M. and at three P.M. I at- 
tended both services. In the niorning the communion was 
administered, and I trust to the refreshing of my soul. How 
blessed it is to hold sweet communion with kindred spu-its 
around the board of one common Lord ! Lord, increase with- 
in me a deeper sense of thy goodness. Cleanse thou my soul 
from all that is impure and unholy, and breathe into me 
afresh the breath of spiritual life. 

In commenting on the morning service, he remarks : 
" I see no use of doctrines which cannot be used to affect 
the practice of the hearer both toward God and man." 
Of the evening discourse, he says : ''The preacher failed, 


I thought, in not applying liis subject. This part of the 
preacher's duty — perhaps one of the most unpleasant, 
certainly one of the most difficult to be done well — is 
too often slurred over by us all." 

Sunday, October 9. — I went to hear Bishop L— — at the 
Ambassador's Chapel. In the afternoon so much fati^ed I 
did not leave my chamber. It is pleasant at times to be 
alone — away from the gaze and bustle of the world, above 
all, away from the presence of this extraordinary city. I had 
some pleasant, and I trust profitable, reflections. Thought 
much of my dear wife and little one. 

Tuesday, October 11. — At five o'clock I was under way for 
Brussels in the diligence, with a Frenchman on each side of 
me. I was in the coupe. We rode thus, without speaking, 
for many hours, so that I was left to reflections on my stay in 
Paris, the people, etc. I may sum up all in this and say : If 
we had no souls, if this world Avere the only theater of our 
existence, and if pleasure in its most extended sense were the 
sole object of life, Paris is the place to find it. For pleasure, 
I suppose, Paris is the first place in the woi'ld. But if this 
life is the place to prepare for another, and if the Scriptures 
are true, one had better live anywhere else. 

October 16. — Had to hire carriage to take me to the Dutch 
lines, for which I paid thirty-four francs ; but could do no 
better. This was the usual price. Passed out of Antwerp 
and through a flat and uninteresting countrj', thickly popu- 
lated, and in some places wholly unproductive, — unlike that 
between Antwerp and Brussels, which I could compare to 
nothing else but a great kitchen -garden. At one o'clock I 
was at the advanced post of the Dutch, where I found several 
sentinels along the lines. I handed my passport to the ser- 
geant, who dispatched it to the commandant of the small 
town before which his command was placed. It was returned 
Avith a can-iage to take nie out of the hands of my Belgian 
fiiends. I mounted into a vehicle very like the Quaker gigs 

iEt. 25] A SPRIG OF ROYALTY. 113 

of Pennsylvania ; beside me was my trunk, and beside the 
driver was tlie sentinel, who was taking me to the command- 
ant of the station. On arrivuig- I was passed as not contra- 
band, and my driver, a dry, tliin, queer-looking little Dutch- 
man, as if delighted to have me passed so easily, was making- 
good speed out of the town, when he was brought to by the 
custom-house officer with a call to examine my baggage. 
There was no avoiding it, so we stopped, and, amid the 
gazing throng of good citizens of Landort, I opened my 
treasures and politely offered to assist mynheer, who was 
tumbling my linen with his dirty fingers. He rejected the 
kindness and said he would rather look for himself. He asked 
if I had any letters. I answered, " No," but he continued 
the search, and presently, with much satisfaction, laid his 
hand upon a packet of letters of introduction which I had 
quite forgotten. These he turned over and over until he came 
to one that was sealed. " Ah," said he, addressing one near 
him. '' Here, take it to the commandant." This unfortu- 
nate document was a letter of introduction from Bishop Ives 
to the editor of The Christian Observer. The Dutchman, no 
doubt, thought it might contain some dreadful Belgian plot. 
However, it was soon returned unopened. The commandant 
probably thought that an American clergyman, writing by 
another to another in England, could have very little to do 
with Dutch politics. 

On reacliiug The Hague he ealled upon Mr. Dabezac 
of New Oi-leans, the American charge d'affaires, by whom 
he was kindly received and entertained. 

I was struck to-day [the diary proceeds] with the sort of 
respect shown by the subjects of his Majesty to the sprouts 
and sprigs of royalty, and also with what is deemed " eomme 
ilfauf'' on the part of the representatives of foreign powers. 
While walking with Mr. Dabezac in the wood, v/e were over- 
taken and passed by a number of persons Avho are more or 
less constantly thronging this inviting resort. Among these 
at length appeared a child of about ten years of age, accom- 


panied by her governess, and followed by a servant in livery. 
To this little creatiu'e I observed the greatest attention paid 
by all wlio came near her, the men facing inward and revei'- 
ently raising their hats, the women courtesying. 1 asked 
Mr. Dabezac who it was. He had scarcely time to reply 
before she was at our heels, and he, disengaging himseK from 
my arm, had faced inward, and given the customary salute 
with great gravity. This was so profoundly ridiculous in an 
American that I doubted for a moment that it was not done 
in burlesque ; but this doubt is to be set down to my igno- 
rance of diplomatic usage. This child, it appears, was the 
daughter of Prince Frederick, one of the sons of the king, 
and because of that relation, however incapable of under- 
standing or estimating the honor, she was treated with the 
homage due to or exacted by royalty'. 

At Berne Mr. Polk visited Hofroyl, the celebrated 
school of Mr. Felleuberg. One of the most pleasant 
days of his travel was spent there in examining the 
working of the school, and in learning from Mr. Fellen- 
berg the peculiar advantages which he claimed for his 
system of instraction. 

After Aasiting many points of interest in Switzerland, 
he crossed the Alj^s into Italy, reached Rome by easy 
stages, and there spent several weeks. His health was 
never good ; and he sometimes doubted whether he 
would ever be able to undertake the active duties of the 
ministry. The following extracts from his diary and 
letters are given not because his observations Avere in 
any way novel or profound, but liecause they illustrate 
the steadfast devotion of the man at a time of greatest 
discouragement. At Rome he made the following en- 
tries : 

Passed the Formn Romanorum, the most celebrated and 
classic spot of the city. Here was the place for the meeting 

^t. 25] EOME. 115 

of the Senate, for the gathering of the people, for the trans- 
action of all business of interest under the kingdom, the 
republic, and the empire ; here poets recited, philosophers 
taught, orators convened. But another reflection was more 
gratifying — these ruins had heard the energetic and ani- 
mated voice of the great Apostle of the Gentiles ; for who may 
doubt that he whose whole soul was so heartily in the work 
which had brought him bound to Eome w^ould neglect the 
opportunity offered daily in the Forum for preaeliing the 
gospel 1 

After passing the triumphal arch of Constantine the Great, 
and the confused mass of the ruins of the palace of the 
Caesars, we came to the Colosseum. Its astonishing magnifi- 
cence impresses all, and the Christian is awed by the fact that 
on this spot thousands of the followers of Christ were made 
the prey of wild beasts, by the cruelty of imperial monsters 
who disgraced human nature. 

At the close of the year 1831 he writes in his journal : 

Thus endeth another year. I dare not look back into it to 
find consolation. Much, very much do 1 see in it to deplore 
with the keenest, bitterest regret; and 1 can only be relieved 
from the unhappiness of such a retrospect by humbly casting 
myself at the foot of the Mercy-seat, confessing fully and 
penitently my transgressions, and imploring grace to brace 
and strengthen me against the future assaults of the tempter. 
May God forgive me for the past, and assist me in futui-e, for 
Christ's sake. 

January 1, 1832. — A new year, opening on the Lord's 
day. May the tranquillity of this holy day be diffused through 
the entire year, and may the peace it is calculated to inspire 
be the lot of me and mine. 

Attended the Enghsh service. The preacher called upon us 
to look back and see how many of our friends and acquaint- 
ances have passed into eternity. 1 did so, and was surprised 
at the numlier. Wliat thoughtless mortals we are, and how 


little impressed with the solemn realities which encompass 
us ! I spent the day, after returning from church, in my room, 
pondering over the circumstances of the season. May the 
Lord assist me in consecrating my heart, during the whole of 
this new year, exclusively to his service. My dear wife and 
child — tlieir absence at this season I feel partieulai'ly. There 
are certain seasons signalized and set aj^art for special devo- 
tion to all our interests ; this is one of them, and my heart 
goes back to my dear home. I commend it and them to the 
mercy and blessing of God. 

January 18. — Shortly after leaving TeiTacina I became a 
subject of the King of Naples, and almost as soon had a speci- 
men of the privileges of my new situation. After passing the 
advanced post where the passport was vised, I encountered 
the custom-house at Fondi. I left the an-angemeut of my 
baggage to my servant as usual, and was reading ; but, finding 
him somewhat long, I looked out, and saw an exceedingly ill- 
looking and dh'ty man handling and rvmipling some prints I 
had picked up on my route. One parcel of my clothes was 
lying here, another there, the whole surrounded by a paiiy of 
hard-looking, haK-naked spectators. Seeing the man can-y- 
ing the prints into the house, I got out of the carnage and 
asked what was the matter. Just then the upper part of the 
trunk was opened and some books were seen. " Oh," said 
the inspector, " books too. This trunk must be taken up- 
stairs."' Remonstrance and the repeated declaration that I 
was not a peddler, and that the prints and books were simply 
those of a traveler, were in vain. I was talking to a stone. 
He could not see any difference between a traveler who had 
picked up a print here and there, as a souvenu- of his tour, or 
who had stowed in his trunk a book or two to beguile an idle 
hour, and a smuggler who got his living by earning those 
articles fi'om kingdom to kingdom ; he only saw that in my 
trunk were certain things he was taught to call books, and 
that they were on the list of the articles taxed. In spite of all 
my eloquence of action and all the vocal and vociferous elo- 
quence of Paul, my ItaHan servant, the whole was speedily 

.Et. 25] liED TAPE. 117 

excised, and I was iuformed that twenty dollars would be re- 
quired of me before I could be permitted to proceed. This I 
positively refused to pay. I could not believe that a govern- 
ment with a particle of intelligence or just feeling could sub- 
ject travelers to such low and pitiful extortion, and if it did, 
I was unwilling to abide the decision of a set of creatures 
who seemed alike deficient in sense and principle. I there- 
fore " appealed to Cfesar," and told them I would take the 
case before the highest revenue officers at Naples. They ob- 
jected that this course was unusual and would be useless. I 
insisted upon sealing the trunks, and having the usual cer- 
tificates withheld, for want of which my baggage would be 
seized at the city gates and carried to the custom-house. 
But this would not do ; in short, the only thing they would 
do — and that they thought I would refuse — was to allow a 
guard to accompany me. This I readily accepted, and mount- 
ing the sergeant beside my servant, with the questionable 
articles packed in a separate parcel which was duly sealed, I 
proceeded on my route. I considered the case so plain, and 
the demand so unreasonable, that I was determined, for the 
principle involved, to inem* expense and inconvenience rather 
than submit to it. 

Writing afterward from Naples, he concludes this epi- 

As to the books and prints and the soldiers of the custom- 
house, I have to say that, though I have been here four days, 
I have just had my property safely delivered to me. On arriv- 
ing here, I sent my card, with a detailed statement of the 
matter, to the revenue officer, and another to a prince who, I 
heard, was in some Avay connected with the government, and 
a man of high and honoralile feeling. I counted merely on 
the justice of the protest and the character of the individual 
to whom it was addressed. I had no special claim to his 
assistance ; but I was not disappointed. He went himself to 
the custom-house, made my case his own, protested against 
the injustice of interfering with the books and papers of a 

118 NAPLES. [1S32 

traveler, and insisted on their being restored to me at once, 
free of duty. He did not belong to this dei^artraent ; his in- 
fluence, therefore, was indirect. After three days' consulta- 
tion, and weighing and calculating, I was told that the 
original amount demanded would be abated two-thirds. I 
was gi'atifled to gain the point, although it had cost me both 
inconvenience and vexation. One is forced to the reflection 
that a government so unrighteously administered must ere 
long go to the wall. 

Naples has the appearance of an amphitheater, and though 
not so rich in palaces as Rome or Florence, yet it presents a 
pictiu'e of unconmion beauty. Beginning at the sea-side, 
which there makes one of its prettiest bends, it stretches away 
backward and upward in a range of magnificent terraces. 
These are interspersed everywhere with spu'es and noble 
domes, and buildings which in any other counti-y would be 
accounted palaces, the whole crowned with the Castle of St. 
Elmo and ]\Im-at's palace of Capo di IMoute. Far away to 
the right is seen the Campus IMartius of this soldier-king, 
an open, flat, and square field of some ten or twenty acres, 
clothed with gi"een, and contrasting beautifully with the rus- 
set of the surrounding country. Beyond the city, and far- 
ther in front, projects another promontory rising to a great 
height and terminating abruptly, opposite to which is a round, 
upright island which looks as if it had once belonged to the 
mainland and had been shaken off by a tremhlement de terre. 
Over and beyond this again is seen another arm of the bay 
(that arm aei'oss which Caracalla threw his famous bridge), 
also St. Paul's landing-place, the lake of Avernus, and the 
Elysian Fields. Sucli is a faint sketch of the outline of this 
beautiful bay. Upon its bosom islands are negligently 
scattered here and there, breaking the view seaward, and 
lifting their heads as a wall of defense to the city. This 
scene, bathed in the mild light of a setting sun, as I saw it 
to-day, is one of the most beautiful the imagination can 

Writing his father from Pavia, March 16, lie says : 

^t. 25] NICE. 119 

The natural beauties of the country, particularly for the eye 
of the farmer, are above all praise. Works of art in every 
department except the useful abound. They have enough of 
sculpture and painting here, indeed, to stock the world and 
feel no impoverishment. Speaking of sculpture reminds me 
of our unfortunate statue of Washington, in which you were 
so particularly interested. I have heard nothing of the fate 
of the fragments since I left Raleigh. It is to be hoped they 
were preserved. If so, the accident is of no consequence 
other than as having brought the statue into the condition of 
the ripest and most esteemed models of antiquity. The finest 
statuary extant has been reduced to fragments and restored. 
Witness the Venus de Medici, the Apollo Belvedere, etc. 
The general, when renewed, therefore, will be in the height 
of fashion. . . . Mama, I hope, is comfortably settled down 
again at the head of her little empire, and has found her 
regency well conducted during her absence. For her com- 
fort, I must tell her she has high company in butter-making in 
tliis quarter, as my table was furnished by the King of Naples 
when I visited his dominions. 

From Nice he ^vrote to the Rev, Dr. Mcllvaine, under 
date of March 27, 1832, commending a poor Itahan 
woman to his special care, and concluding as follows : 

I have been at Nice now nearly a week, and find the cli- 
mate truly delightful. It is very warm and dry. If it has a 
fault, it is its extreme dryness, interrupted occasionally by a 
sharp wester. I find the clergyman (English) a devoted, pious 
man. There are two other English clergymen here, both 
evangelical men. We meet almost every evening at the house 
of one or the other of them, and I have found these meetings 
like an oasis in the desert. One of them is the brother-in-law 
of Frank Noel, brother of your friend Baptist Noel. Mrs. 
Sherwood, the authoress (whose catechism Bishop Kemper 
edited), is also here. I have seen her very frequently. She 
is very plain and simple in manner, and looks not unlike the 


pictures we see of Mrs. Hannah More. We had a great deal 
ot talk about India, America, etc. She went out to India the 
same year with Henry Martin, and lived next door to him for 
several years. She tells many interest intJ^ anecdotes of him. 
She is at present chiefly engaged in publishing a work on the 
types of the Scriptures. I saw the first number, which, entre 
nous, I thought more curious than useful. Everybody, though, 
is inoculated with the type and prophecy mania; and they 
can't comprehend what we 've been about in ^^merica that we 
know so little about it. 

I allowed myself to be prevailed upon to preach in Leg- 
horn at a Bethel meeting among the sailors, and suffered 
very much from it. I can't make out my case at all ; I look 
very well, and, while silent, feel so, but the least excessive 
talking or public speaking brings me quite to the gi-ound 
again. I sometimes fear that I shall never be able to combat 
again with the trials of our calling ; but, in any event, I try 
to feel that my Ufe and health are in the hands of God, and 
to be willing to be disposed of as he shall think best. I hope 
I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in Jime or July. 

From Nice Mr. Polk went to Marseilles ; thence to 
Toulon ; and thence, by way of Lyons, he retnrned to 
Paris, where he found the cholera raging. The banker 
in charge of his funds had temporarily established him- 
self at Brussels, and he was compelled to remain in Paris 
about ten days before he received a remittance. On one 
of these days twelve hundred persons were buried. He 
not only witnessed some of the dreadful scenes of the 
plague-stricken capital, but personally suffered a severe 
attack of the disease. 

On his arrival in England he passed some time Avith 
Dr. Olynthus Gregory at Woolwich, and during his stay, 
in company with some members of the doctoi-'s family, 
visited the Noels, then members of the Church of Eug 
land. From Woolwich he went to London. 


To Mrs. Polk. 

May 30, 1832. 

This day I left London for Cambridge at ten a.m. Thought 
it was for the last time, but find, on getting to Cambridge, 
that it would be more interesting to go through London to 
«)xford than by the direct route, so that I shall be back 
again in the midst of that wonder of the world. Well, as the 
Americans say, " I don't quite ignore it," as it seems, on this 
side of the water, more like home than any other place. Be- 
sides, I shall get what I failed to take Avith me this morning 
— singular forge tfulness in a traveler — my traveling-map and 
road-book, which I left at my lodgings. 

I am now in Cambridge, the seat of science on this island. 
I have looked over most of the colleges, and found the famous 
chapel of " King's," which an Englishman in Italy charged 
me to see by all means. One never sees the things one ex- 
pects to see, and this famous King's has disappointed me. 
The interior certainly is finej the roof is arched over with 
stone carved in curious fretwork, and the windows are of 
handsome stained glass ; but it cannot be compared, in point 
of magnificence of effect, with the cathedral of Rouen ; yet 
few EngUshmen can believe this. 

The road to-day lay through Epping Forest, remarkable, 
as far as I know, only for a celebrated stag-hunt which takes 
place here annually during the Easter holidays, pro bono pub- 
lico. The stag, the hounds, the attendants and whippers-in 
are provided by the king, and are put in motion for the 
amusement of his loving subjects. To this hunt flock the 
Londoners ; cockney tailors, butchei's, periwig- makers, and all 
the et ceteras which make up the London mob oE hmnanity, 
who can raise the means of reaching the gi-ound, are there, 
and enter into the sport with glee becoming to novices. Here 
tofore they have made out to get the poor beast to start, but 
on the latest occasion, a month since, their zeal so outran the 
best discretion of his Majesty's huntsmen that it appears they 
could never make a place large enough for the poor thing to 
start from, so that what strength it had was wearied out of it 
before it could get out of their circle. The ground is called 


a forest, but I had passed through it before I was tempted to 
ask for it; it is a forest that has been — a forest without trees. 
I was much struck with the occasional beauty of the coun- 
try : not much hill and dale, yet not perfectly flat. The cul- 
tivation around the country-seats and cottages, to say nothing 
of the incessant succession of green fields, formed a panorama 
which, to me, Avas quite as interesting as a more rugged sur- 
face woidd have been. I confess I am quite charmed with 
the neatness of the country houses, and the manner in which 
the fields are arranged, hedged, and tilled ; and when I think 
of our own vast plantations, with our dirty, careless, thriftless 
negro popvdation, I could, and do, wish that we were thor- 
oughly quit of them. The more I see of those who are with- 
out slaves, the more I am prepared to say that we are seriously 
wi'onging ourselves by retaining them, — but I am in no mood 
for entering into this subject. In point of high cultivation 
and the semblance of comfort, I have seen nothing to com- 
pare with England. But I am not to write a book — above all, 
a book of such trash as the jottings of a tired and half -asleep 
invalid are likely to be. So, dear wife, good-night. 

June 1. — How time flies ! What a varied existence have 
I had since last June! Change following change. Many 
marked providences have mingled with them all. I have 
reason to fear that they have not received the acknowledg- 
ment of a grateful heart or obedient life. I have nothing to 
offer in excuse but confession of unworthiness and guilt. 
That the Lord may in pity forgive and restore me is my 
most humble and sincere suppHeation. 

I am led to these reflections and feelings in remembering 
that it was in this month just one year since that I took leave 
of my dear wife and httle one and set out on the journey 
which I as little thouglit would have led me to Oxford as it is 
now likely to lead to China. But I trust it is soon to termi- 
nate, and I shall, I am sure, feel that my life is more than 
ever not my own, if I shall be restored to my little all in safety. 

I find myself much less fatigued after my ride than I an- 
ticipated. Left London about half past one o'clock. It was 

^t. 26] OXFORD. 123 

raining, but, having tlie means of wrapping up securely, I felt 
no great inconvenience on the outside of the coach. 

The approach to Oxford is very beautiful. The coach drew 
up at the " Mitre," and, as I thought it might be the only 
chance I should ever have of being sheltered beneath the 
Mitre, I at once turned in. 

Oxford, June 3. — A fine day; breakfasted with Dr. Mc- 
Bride and family, — viz., wife, daughter, and maiden sister, — 
agreeable, talkative, and disposed to please. I have ah-eady 
remarked that Enghsh breakfasts are conducted with great 
ease. The cloth spread and the dishes served, the servant 
retires and each person takes care of himself. You are ex- 
pected to help yourself or to ask for what you wish, and trou- 
ble no one with : *' Shall I help you to an e^gV or " Will you 
take a piece of this fowl'?" " Do let me serve you something 
my way." Now, this I rather like, for it is, in the tirst place, 
much more likely to make a stranger at home, and spare 
others and himself many questions and answers which really 
break up the current of conversation. Besides, it cuts up by 
the roots an intolerable pest, in silencing those good people 
who, having really nothing to say, put at you every five 
minutes with an offer of service. 

In the afternoon I heard with much pleasure a young min- 
ister on confirmation. The congregation, as English congre- 
gations generally are, was very quiet and attentive. Indeed, 
I think their manner while attending to divine service more 
devotional than that of any people I have seen. Their re- 
sponses are audible and distinct, and they are, as far as I have 
seen, all men, women, and children in the habit of using the 
Prayer-book faithfully. Would we could say as much of our 
own! But here respeetal.)ility requires that sort of decent 
external regard, while no such principle, defective as it is, has 
force with us. 

After dining with the family of my friend Dr. McBride, we 
went to what is called New College Chapel, remarkable for its 
beauty, and particularly for the effect of one of its painted 
windows, the joint work of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Mr. 


Jarvis ; the former havine: designed, while the latter executed 
it. I was takeu to the chapel that I might hear, what is not 
heard elsewhere, the cathedral service. The greater part of 
this consisted in chants performed by persons hii'ed for that 
purpose. The music, certainly, was fine ; but I can never be 
interested in a service which seemed designed so wholly for 
effect, and which constantly reminded me of what I had 
witnessed in that church from whose lapses we profess to 
have recovered. I was in no wise pleased M-ith the religious 
effects of the service, and though I have attended church three 
times I have not realized the solemnity and sanctity of this 
holy day. 

The following letter to his father gives some further 
account of his travels, particularly mentions his journey 
to Liverpool by rail and steam, new things at that date, 
and a meeting with Montgomery the poet. 

KiNGSTOX-uPON-HuLL, Jime 13, 1832. 
My dear Father : When I last wrote you I thought I should 
have sailed before this ; but, on getting to Liverpool, and 
finding I could, by adding only a month to my absence, see 
the most interesting parts of Scotland and Ireland, I had but 
little difficulty in yielding to the temptation of fm-ther delay. 
I have deferred sailiag, therefore, until the 8th of the next 
month, by which time I shall have aceompUshed my wish, and 
will sail when a first-class packet with ample acconnnodations 
and a civil captain puts out for New Yoi'k. I have seen all 
the ships wliich leave between this time and that date. They 
seem small and incommodious. Tlu*ough a letter to Mary 
from Manchester, you will have learned that on my route 
from London I visited Cambridge, Oxford, and Birmingham. 
From ^lanchester my route to Liverpool was, of course, by 
tlie railway. The distance is thirty-two miles, and we accom- 
plished it in less than two hours. This is the ordinary time 
now ; but the carnages have passed in fifty minutes, I think. 
On my return from Liverpool to Manchester, we were forty 
minutes on the west half of the road, which is at the rate of 


twenty- six miles an hour. It is a magnificent work, and from 
the fact that the stock is ninety i)er cent, above par, you will 
see that it quite succeeds. At Liverpool the passengers alight 
in the suburbs of the city. Goods, etc., intended for shipping 
pass by a tunnel under the town to the docks. This tunnel 
is upward of a mile in length. The carriages, which are built 
long, and are very convenient, hold about twelve to twenty- 
four persons, and are strung together sometimes so as to make 
a train of two himdred yards in length. To stand at a distance 
and see this monster first begin to crawl off, and then, hissing 
and puffing, increase its speed until it attains a swiftness 
almost equal to that with which the swallow skims the earth, 
makes one feel lost in amazement. We involuntarily say with 
the simple countryman: "This beats all!" Indeed, higher 
eidogium could not well be bestowed at such a moment ; for 
wc are at a loss for language sufficiently strong to express the 
astonishment — the admu-ation — it excites. After seeing this, 
we cannot but Avisli the heartiest success to similar undertak- 
ings in our own country. From Manchester I went to Shef- 
field, remarkable for its manufactories of plated ware and 
cutlery. This is where our knives, forks, candlesticks, etc., 
come from. I was much interested in looking over the estab- 
lishment of several of the factories. At Rodgers's, famous for 
the excellence of his blades of all kinds, I piu'chased for you 
a pair of what he assured me were his first-rate razors. I 
hope you may find them as good as he represents. Sheffield, 
you may remember, is the place from which our townspeople, 
Mr.i and Mrs. Gales, came. Through their kintlness I was 
favored with an introduction to the poet Montgomery, once a 
member of their family, and Mr. Gales's successor to the edi- 
torship of their paper. He has since retired and is living with 
two of Mr. Gales's sisters. I have met with few persons who 
have more interested me than tlus excellent man. His charac- 
ter as a Uteraiy man of course is well known. I spent the 
greater part of three days with him, and for the pleasure I 
have received I feel that Mrs. Gales has placed me under an 

1 Mr. Gales, subsequently the editor of the National Intelligencer at 


obligation I shall not soon forget. The object of my visit 
here is to see the eldest and most distinguished of the sons of 
Thomas Scott, the commentator. The town in itself has little 
to interest, and I shall go this afternoon to York. From York 
my route will be through Durham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, etc., 
to Edinburgh ; thence, by Perth, Inverness, the Caledonia 
Canal, and the Clyde, to Glasgow ; from Glasgow into Ire- 
land, either at Londonderry or Belfast ; thence by the Giant's 
Causeway to Dublin, and across, by Holyhead and Chester, 
to Liverpool. The rapidity and facilities of traveUng in this 
country will enable me to accomplish this in the time speci- 
fied, with ease. Hoping that the jaunt may prove pleasant, 
and with my best love to mother and the family, I remaiD 
truly, Youi" affectionate son, 

L. Pole. 



1832 TO 1841. 

Return to America.— Decides to adopt farming.— Consecration of Dr. 
Mcllvaine as Bishop of Ohio. — Leaves for Tennessee. — "Rattle and 
Snap."— Brick-making and building.- Death of Colonel Polk.— A wo- 
man raUroad-promoter. — The Experimental Railway.— Leonidas Polk's 
interest in railways. — How the railway should preserve the American 
Union.— The cholera.— The Columbia Institute.— Failing health.— 
Travels in Kentucky.— Miller and manufacturer.— Devotion to duty. — 
Consecration as Missionary Bishop of the Southwest.— Bishop Mc- 
Ilvaine's consecration sermon.— Missionary travels.— Nautical astron- 
omy and religion. —A practical bishop.— Divine service under difficulties. 
— A providential escape.— Second missionary jom-ney. — Extent and 
character of the missionary diocese.— Views on celibacy of the clergy. — 
Assistance from Bishop Otey.— The episcopacy in Texas.— Third mis- 
sionary journey. — Thoughts on the New Year.— Letters to his mother. 
— Incidents and adventures of travel.^ Sunday in Louisiana. — Horse- 
thieves in the Indian Territory.— Chief Ross's pardonable suspicions.— 
St. John's Chapel.— Slaveholders and slaves.— Appointed Bishop of 

Mr. Polk's travels had so improved liis health that 
he returned to America, at the age of twenty-six, com- 
paratively robust in body and cheerful in spirit; but 
his physician still recommended him to be as much as 
possible in the open air. The winter of 1832-33 was 
passed in Raleigh, sometimes at his father's house, and 
sometimes at the house of his wife's father, Mr. Dev- 
ereux. It was during this winter that he resolved to 
live upon a farm until his health should be sufficiently 
re-established for him to return to his clerical duties. 


His father offered to give him a place in Tennessee, and 
Mr. Deverenx offered him negroes to cultivate it. Be- 
lieving that the climate of Tennessee would agi-ee with 
him, he accepted these offers, and prepared to remove to 
his new home. Before his departure, the Rev. Dr. Mc- 
Ilvaine was consecrated Bishop of Ohio, and on that oc- 
casion Mr. Polk addressed to liini the following letter: 

Raleigh, December 10, 1832. 

My dear Brother : Since receiving intelligence of the termi- 
nation of the Ohio episcopacy, I have been absent from town 
and have not had an opportnnity of expressing my cordial 
satisfaction in finding you invested with the authority and 
enlarged opportunities of usefulness attached to that office. 

It would give me great pleasure, I assiire you, to occupy 
some one of the many outposts of yom' widely extended ter- 
ritory, and to be occasionally refreshed with yoiu- presence; 
but, as far as I see, my path hes in a different direction. What 
was only probable when I saw you in Brooklyn is now cer- 
tain — that I am to take up my residence in Tennessee. My 
life, I trust, shall not be lost, and in your great valley I shall 
at least have opportimity of usefulness. We propose to go 
out in the spring, and I shall settle near my brother, about 
fifty miles to the south of Nash\'ille. I do not despair of 
seeing you one day in the midst of your diocese ; tvhen, must 
be left to the decision of the future. You have become an 
author. What would you think of putting forth a small 
manual for family devotion? I do not find an\i;liing that 
seems to answer fully the purpose. I shall not leave until 
April. Mrs. Polk joins me in much love. 

Very truly yom-s in Christ, 

Leonidas Polk. 

In April, 1833, he set out for Tennessee, and on the 
15tli of Ma}' reached his brother Lucius's residence in 
Mauiy County. The journey was long and difficult, 
owimr to the sorions illness of his Avife. His father 


owned a tract of five thousand acres of land, known as 
" Rattle and Snap," wliieli was divided between his fonr 
sons, Lucius, Leonidas, Eufus, and George ; but the 
land assigned to Leonidas had been leased, so that he 
could not take possession of it until 1834. He therefore 
remained with his family at his brother's home, prepar- 
ing, with the aid of his father, to build a dwelling. In 
the following extract from a letter to his mother he gives 
some account of his occupation while preparing to take 
possession of his estate : 

Hamilton Place, August 17, 1833. 
My dear Mother : I confess I have been quite remiss as a 
correspondent, and I am unwilUng to excuse myself on the 
score of being very full of employment. But the truth is, I 
am very full of employment, and I find that to look after 
one's farm, and superintend all the various arrangements 
necessary to building, is no small task ; but I came out here 
for an active life, and it is well I am not disappointed. I 
am very busy making brick, and will make them as they are 
required, I now see that, if I had managed rightly, I could 
have had my house up this fall. But ray plan is to get every- 
thing ready and on the spot to begin operations as soon as 
the spring shall open. The house will go up in good time, 
and I hope without much trouble or expense. I have suc- 
ceeded in buying out the Fleming lease on favorable terms. 
There is as much open land in the place as I shall be able 
to cultivate for some time, and as there is a very snug, close- 
built log house with four rooms, closet, etc., built somewhat 
on the plan of the house at Will's Grove, we shall take up 
our quarters there, notwithstanding the kind and affectionate 
reception of our brother and sister, and our present comfort- 
able rooms in their dwelling. . . . 

Early in 1834 Colonel William Polk died in Raleigh, 
at a good old age, honored by all men, and lamented by 
all who knew him. Th()ut>-h his death at the age of 


nearly fourscore could not be unexpected, it was a heavy 
shock to his family, by whom he was both venerated 
and beloved, and particularly to Leonidas, to Avhom for 
years past his relations had been peculiarly tender. The 
follo-sving letter was wi-itten by Leonidas to his mother 
shortly after receiving intelligence of his father's death : 

Hamilton Place, February 12, 1834. 
My dear Blother: We have now been a week in the receipt 
of the news of oui* dear father's death, and indeed I have 
been miable until now to muster resolution to acknowledge 
it. Ah, how deep a pang has it inflicted on us ! Our dear, 
dear father ! I caunot realize the truth of this sad iuteUi- 
gence. I have been assured, but cannot feel that he is no 
more. But it is and must be so, and how impressive a lesson 
has it read to us all. If there had been any among men who 
could have withstood the assaults of our last enemy, surely 
one combining such vigor of constitution with such energy 
of mind would have been among the number. But excep- 
tions there are none. We are all frail and crumbling dust, 
at least as to the body. But we are not left comfortless or 
without hope. Few deaths have apparently transpired with 
so little acute pain or suffering, or with more composure. 
He seems to have expired hke a candle. This of itself has 
been a great consolation, as it is so unlike the end I antici- 
pated. God in that was indeed merciful, and may Ave not 
hope still further? The characteristics of his illness seem 
to have been wholly different from those of former days, 
but little or nothing of that restless impatience which was 
usual. His sohcitude for the comfort of those about him, his 
freedom from complaint, and apparent resignation, must 
indeed have afforded gi-ounds of consoling hope to you, as 
they have to me. I have obseiwed a marked and gi-owing 
change in my father's character for some time past, and 
doubtless it has not been unobserved by you. It was not to 
be expected that any very sudden or complete revolution of 
feeling and character would occur in the case of one bred 


in the times and scenes which have marked his life. There 
was a natural severity of character and high tone and bearing 
which would very hkely attend him to the end, and any, the 
least evidence, of an humbled and subdued spirit, such as 
was evinced, was much more than I had anticipated. With 
God, who was the author of the qualities which distinguished 
him, and who has ever vouchsafed mercy to the humble and 
penitent, we may confidently leave him ; and, my dear mother, 
may we not aU., with this, add a sincere petition that the 
warning may not be lost, and that this aiSiction may prove 
the source of God's richest blessing unto us who are left? 
We commend ourselves unto him. 

It is a curious fact that Mr. Polk's mother was one of 
the earliest promoters of railway enterprise in this coun- 
try. She had in fact projected the fii'st hne of railway 
in North Carolina. True, it was only a cheap strap-iron 
tramway, costing $2250 per mile, and running from the 
east portico of the capitol at Raleigh to a stone quarry, 
but it was the precursor of greater things, and it was 
significantly called " The Experimental Railway." When 
it was finished in 1833, a handsome passenger car was 
put upon the track "for the accommodation," as the 
directors announced, " of such ladies and gentlemen as 
desired to take the exercise of a railroad airing." Crowds 
of people flocked from the adjacent counties to avail 
themselves of the privilege ; and it is recorded that no 
accidents occurred, the directors having prudently pro- 
vided as the motive power of the train a safe old horse 
that was warranted not to run away ! Mrs. Polk was 
not only the projector of the Experimental Railway; 
she was also one of the principal stockholders, and the 
soundness of her judgment was amply vindicated when 
the profits of the enterprise were found to amount 
to three hundred per cent, of the original investment. 


When the success of the Experimental Railway had led 

to the successful inaugairation of other railway enter- 
prises of greater magnitude, Mrs. Polk was not forgotten ; 
and at a banquet given in honor of the first train draAvn 
by steam power into Raleigli, a special toast was drunk 
" To the distinguished lady who suggested the construc- 
tion of the Expei'imental Railway ; she well deserves a 
name among the benefactors of the State." 

In his extended joui'neys in different parts of the coun- 
tiy, Leonidas Polk had foreseen the important function 
which railway's were destined to fill in the future devel- 
opment of the country ; and he had foreseen that they 
would have an effect on politics and society not less than 
on commerce and manufactures. In a conversation with 
an old West Point friend in 1832 or 1833 on the phj'sical 
formation of the country, the rapid increase of its popu- 
lation, and the danger to the Union which might arise 
from a conflict of interests between different sections, 
Mr. Polk observed that the true preventive of sucTi a 
calamity would be found in the creation of a complete 
railway system which would so unite all parts of the 
country in the bonds of a common interest as to make a 
disintegration of the Union difficult, if not impossible. 
But he was not content to i)erceive the utility of rail- 
ways and to point it out to others. Like his mother, he 
became an earnest promoter of railway enterprises, and 
in a letter written to her in July, 1834, ho first desciibes 
a visit made to Nash\alle "wdth his wife — "the best wife, 
though I say it, in this or any other country" — then 
refers to an address which he had drafted for a com- 
mittee on railway's, and of Avliich the committee had 
distril)uted five thousand copies throughout the State of 

The latter part r.f m:54 was a tinu' of nuidi anxiety. 

/Et. 28J AN EPIDEMIC OF (JIlOLEliA. 133 

The cholera, which had spread terror through the coun- 
try in 1831 and 1832, made its appearance on Mr. Polk's 
plantation. Before September thirty-five cases had 
appeared, but only one proved fatal, and he beheved 
that, had he been called in time, even that single death 
might have been prevented. He was with his people 
night and day, rendering them every necessary service, 
and it was doubtless owing to his incessant vigilance and 
prompt use of the proper remedies that the mortahty 
among them was so slight. A characteristic incident of 
the year was his care of a distant but impoveiished kins- 
man, of whom he wrote to his mother as follows : 

I have now with me old Charley Alexander, a full cousin 
of my father. He lives about fifteen miles from this, on Swan 
Creek; and having made several ineffectual attempts to see 
James Polki about a pension (he is very poor), I made an 
appointment for James at my house, and sent down one of 
my boys and a horse, and bad him brought up last night. 
James came to-day and saw liini, made out all his papers, 
and thmks he can easily secure the old man his pension, $80 
per year since 1831, at which time the law in favor of miUtia 
applicants was passed. He is a very respectable old man, 
and has evidently a family Hkeness. He is now about eighty, 
and is blind. He has given me many interesting details in 
regard to our family history. 

In the autumn of 1834 he went with Mrs. Polk to 
Raleigh to be with his sister, Mrs. Badger, with whom 
he remained until her death in the following spring. On 
returning to his parish he cousented, while continuing 
his farming operations, to take charge of the parish in 
Columbia as well, and soon raised sufficient funds to en- 
able Bishop Otey to establish a Church school for girls, 
which was incorporated under the name of the " Colum- 

1 James K. Polk, afterward President. 


bia Institute" and was opened in llie ant uiiin of the same 
year.^ He was now tliorougldy employed and dee])ly 
interested in his work. His building and farming oper- 
ations ; the Columbia parish under his sole charge ; the 
gh'ls' school, of which he was a trustee ; his young fam- 
ily, to which a daughter was now added ; and the care 
and direction of his negroes — gave him abundant and 
varied occupation ; but he was soon compelled to retire 
from active w^ork. His health again failed him, and 
his physicians recommended him to give up all active 
duties for a time, and he passed the summer in travel- 
ing through Kentucky. On his return he resigned his 
parish, but resumed his other duties with his usual en- 
ergy, erecting on his estate a steam flouring-mill, and con- 
necting with it the machinery required in the manufact- 
ure of bagging. On Sundays he officiated regidarly to 
a congi-egation consisting of liis own and his brothers' 
families and their servants. The year which followed 
was perhaps the happiest of his life. His health was 
restored ; his affairs were prosperous ; his occupations 
were congenial ; his family life was as nearly perfect as 
anything on this eai'th can be ; on the horizon of the 
future no lightest cloud of threatening marred his pros- 
pects. But tlie clouds were soon to gather. Money 
losses fell upon him through the fault of others, and, for 
the first time in his life, he found himself embarrassed. 
It was while struggling with this unforeseen trouble, 
and while preparing to meet the harder stniggle which 
it would entail, that he was suddenly and unexpectedly 
called by the Church to the responsible and laborious 

1 In 1865, at the close of the ciyil war, Mrs. Polk, in conimon with so 
many others in the Southern States, found herself without means of 
support. She accepted the position of teacher of Eng^lish literature in 
this institution, and remained there until the establishment of her own 
school in New Orleans. Louisiana. 

/Et. 32] A SOLBIKli OF THE CHUIWli. 135 

position of Missionary Bishop of the vast region then 
known as the Sonthwest. He did not shrink, though he 
might well have done so, from the new and heavy labor 
which was laid upon liim. He accepted it as providen- 
tial; and from any providential duty Leonidas Polk 
could not shrink. In taking orders he felt that he had 
enlisted in the army of the Church, and he was bound 
to obey orders to the utmost of his strength, without 
regard to personal considerations. In a narrative pre- 
pared by Mrs. Polk for the perusal of her children, there 
occurs the following touching passage : 

This winter [1836-37] was a happy one — indeed, all our life 
was happy; but I enjoyed move of my husband's society theu 
than at any other period. We lived in a little cabin; our 
two children were hearty, and in my dear brother Lucius and 
his admirable wife we had congenial friends. More than all, 
my husband had leisure to be with me, and the evenings were 
spent in reading. 

How hapxnly the days 

Of Thalaha went by ! 

I knew I was happy ; I enjoyed it, and often said, God gave 
us this to prepare for the storms which must come. 

In the summer of 1837 our house was completed. As soon 
as we were in it, my husband began holding services for the 
negi-oes every Sunday, and devoted himseK to them. The 
sick were objects of his special attention. The foUowing win- 
ter pecuniary troubles began to annoy my dear husband. A 
firm for which he had become surety failed, and he was in- 
volved to the amount of $30,000; but he did not permit 
pecuuiary troubles to iuterfere with the happiness of his 

The following summer passed very pleasantly vnth. our 
dear mother [Mrs. Polk], my sister, Susan Polk, Rufus and 
George. Now came what was one of the greatest trinls of 
mv life. I was called to gi\-e up my dear husband from 

136 CONSECEATION. [1838 

his home. The General Convention met in the fall of 1838, 
and appointed him missionary bishop of the Southwest — a 
vast field, embracing Arkansas, Indian Territoiy, ]\Iississippi, 
Louisiana, and Ahilmma. Home and all its endearments 
must be given up, and I must be left alone to bring up my 
children. Thank God, I did not hesitate or by any word in- 
fluence his decision. I told him he was God's servant and 
soldier, and I had not even the right to have an opinion. 
There was no struggle in his mind; he never felt anything 
hard he was called upon to do for God, who had done so 
much for him; and though the acceptance of the office in- 
volved loss of property and separation from wife and children 
for months at a time, he did not hesitate. Mrs. Polk [his 
mother] remained with us until winter, and went with us as 
far as Cincinnati, where, on December 9, 1838, he was conse- 
crated,— Bishops Smith, Meade, Otey, and Mcllvaine being 
the consecrators. . . . 

The preacher at the consecration of Bishop Polk was 
Bishop Mcllvaine, and, after telling- the stor}^ of the 
conversion of Cadet Polk, he concluded as follows : 

Tlie singular and very prominent evidence of the hand of 
God in this case was gi'eatly blessed to others. By and by 
he professed Christ in the sacrament of baptism, which was 
administered to him, with another recently turned to the 
Lord, in the chapel of the INIditary Academy, and in the 
presence of all the corps. After graduating at the institution 
and leaving the army, he passed through a regular course of 
study for the holy ministry, and was successively ordained 
deacon and presb^-ter. ]\lany years have elapsed. The chap- 
lain has since been called to a higher order in the ministry 
and more enlarged responsibilities in the Church. The cadet, 
meanwhile, after many vicissitudes of active duty and of dis- 
abling ill-health, supposed he had settled liimself for the rest 
of his life as preacher and pastor to a humble and obscure 
congregation of negroes, whom he had collected together 
from neighboring plantations ; to wlioiii, living entirely upon 

zEt. ;!l2J A M'OliTHY STA^^DAMJJ-BEAHKH. 137 

his own pecuniary means, he appropriated a part of his own 
house for a church ; and to whose eternal interests he had 
chosen cheerfully and happily to devote himself as their spir- 
itual father, with no emolument but then* salvation. But such 
was just the spirit for the highest of all vocations in the 
Church. To be a servant of servants is the very school in 
which to jirepare for the chief ministry under Him who took 
on Him the form of a servant. The Church needed a mission- 
ary bishop for a vast field, for great self-denial, for untiring 
patience, for courageous enterprise. Her eye was dii-ected 
to the self-appointed pastor of that humble congregation. 
"With most impressive unanimity did she call him away to a 
work not indeed of more dignified duty, but of more eminent 
responsibihty ; not indeed of more exquisite satisfaction to a 
Clu'istian's heart (for what can give a Christian's heart more 
satisfaction than to lead such of the poor to Christ?), but of 
severer trials and vastly greater difficulties and hardships. 
Counting the cost, he has not dared to dechne it. Regarding 
the call as of God, he has embraced the promised grace, and 
is now ready to be offered. Thus the chaplain has here met 
the beloved cadet again, seeing and adoring the end of the 
Lord in that remarkable beginning. And now, with unspeak- 
able thankfulness to God for what he here witnesses, may he 
say to this candidate-elect for labor and sacrifice, in the words 
of St. Paul to his beloved disciple : " Thou, therefore, my son, 
be strong in the gi-ace that is in Jesus Christ. Endure hard- 
ness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. And the things thou 
hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit 
thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." 

In the consecration of Leonidas Polk to the episcopate, 
the Aniei'iean Chnrcli felt that it had cause of encour- 
agement. With an honored and historic name, with a 
bearing which impressed all who met him, witli a court- 
esy which won all hearts, with a courage w^hicdi shunned 
no danger, with a devotion which shrank from no sacri- 
fice, he was a standard-bearer worthy of her cause. It 

138 A UNITED FAMILY. [1839 

Avas in liis lioiiKi that loss was felt, and the loss there 
was irr('i)arable. But, thoufj^li it was always felt, it was 
l)orne in silence. The n()l)le woman whom he had loved 
from childhood, and whom he proudly called "the best 
wife in this or any otlun- country," was as noble as him- 
self. Thenceforward, thoug-h she felt that he belonged 
less to her than to the Church, and though she sighed 
for the old days when he had been all her own, she did 
not murmur, but strengthened and stood by him as a 
helpmeet in the harder life on which he had entered. 

In entering on his missionary work Bishop Polk was 
obliged to leave his affairs — already scmiewhat embar- 
rassed as they were — to the management of his brothers, 
and he foresaw that in consequence of the way in which 
their business was conducted a serious crisis might occur 
at no distant time. The Polks were men of energy and 
enterprise, ready to avail themselves of the advantages 
of the new country in Avhieli tlie\^ had settled. Their 
estates were contiguous, and in any aifair in which any 
one of them might engage he counted, \Aithout asking:, 
on the sui)port and assistance of the rest. In their 
financial arrangements eac^li of them was the indorser 
of the others ; and the abimdaut credit which they thus 
enjoyed was a constant temptation to engage in enter- 
prises which were beyond their means. Besides, as the 
(>xperience of the bishop had already proved, it was 
only too possible for one of them to make heavy losses 
through other parties and so to involve his brothers. 
For the moment there was little to be done but to make 
such arrangements as were possible, and, ha\ing done 
so, the bishop set out on his first visitation in the montli 
of January, 1889. 

His jurisdiction was enormous, extending over the 
States of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, the 


Indian Territory, and the republic of Texas. For six 
months he journeyed, chiefly on horseback, often in rude 
vehicles, sometimes on foot, through patliless forests, 
open prairies, dangerous swamps, and swollen streams 
— visiting every community and many lonely dwellings 
where the children of the Church were to be found ; 
gathering congregations, holding services, preaching, 
baptizing, confirming, and celebrating the sacrament 
wherever and whenever he could find an opi)ortunity. 
Some quaint anecdotes of his experience have been pre- 
served, all illustrating the versatility as well as the de- 
votion of the man. One whimsical adventure may be 
taken as a sample of the rest. On one occasion he took 
passage on a steamer bound for Shreveport, Louisiana, 
on which there was no accommodation for passengers, 
and he was indebted to the kindness of a fellow-passen- 
ger, a fur-trader, who had formerly been master of a 
vessel sailing from Nantucket, for the use of a bearskin 
to sleep on. Next da}^ he saw liis companion take an 
observation of the sun, and, after waiting a few minutes, 
begin to read his Bible. Asking an explanation, the 
captain told him that his wife was a devout Episcopa- 
lian, that he had agreed with her that they should read 
their Bibles daily at the same hour, and that, in order to 
be sure of always reading at the same hour with his 
wife, it was his custom to make an observation whenever 
it was possible to do so. At night the steamer struck a 
snag and sank. The bishop had the satisfaction of as- 
sisting his friend in saving his peltries ; but the steamer 
was about to be abandoned, when the bishop suggested a 
plan by which it might be raised. Under his directions 
the crew went to work with a will, and the boat was 
raised. Before it could be repaired, however, to continue 
its voyage, another steamer passed and took the bisho}) 


and the fur-trader on board. At Shreveport, after visit- 
ing a colony of Episcopalians a few miles out of town, 
the bishop endeavored to make arrangements to hold a 
service, but his overtures were not well received. He 
was bluntly told, " We have never had any preaching 
here, and we don't want any." At last it was agreed 
that if a certain Mr. Blank should make no objections, 
the service might be held. Mr. Blank said that he had 
left Maine because he had been dosed to death there with 
rehgion, and he wanted none of it at Shreveport ; but 
he agi-eed that if a place could be found in which to hold 
a service, he would make no objections. A place was 
found in an unfinished house ; but the owner, after con- 
senting that the bishop might use it, withdrew his con- 
sent, saying that he must be guaranteed against damage 
to his property, and estimating the possible damage at 
six hundred dollars. The friendly trader at once put up 
the money, to be paid to the owner, in whole or in part, 
as might be determined by a committee of impartial 
citizens, to reimbiu-se him for any possible damage. The 
demand of the owner of the house seemed to be a sub- 
terfuge to escape from his previous consent to allow his 
house to be used ; but it may have been a just precau- 
tion, after all ; for when it was known that tlie service 
was actually to be held, a mob of raftsmen and other 
rowdies sent him word that they would either prevent 
the meeting or disperse it by force. The bishop went 
calmly on with his preparations ; Captain Barnard, the 
fui--trader, procured a table, covered it with a white cloth, 
on which he laid his Bible, and then went through the 
town ringing a hand-bell to give notice of the ser^dce. 
At the last moment, when a mob, as well as a congrega^ 
tion, was gathering, the sunken steamer wliich tlie bishop 
had raised cainc into port, and the crew, hearing of the 


disturbance, rushed to tlie scene of the expected riot, and 
declared that the bishop should not be molested. He 
was no " common preacher," they said ; he knew how to 
work, and they would like to see any one who would 
hinder him from preaching if he wished to do so. Ac- 
cordingly the service was held in quietness. 

In Texas he had some rough experiences. The "re- 
public " was at that time a place of refuge for insolvent 
debtors and for not a few fugitives from justice. Even 
the bishop was suspected of belonging to one or other of 
those classes. A Texan, happening to hear that he was 
one of the Polks of Tennessee, sat for a while silent, and 
then said, "Well, stranger, if it is a fair question, I 
would give a heap to know what brought you here." The 
bishop smilingly told him that he was a clergyman who 
had come to preach to the people. " Oh, my friend," 
replied the Texan, " go back, go back ; we are not worth 
saving ! " 

When he had reached New Orleans, after visiting that 
diocese and the diocese of Alabama, the bishop took 
passage on a steamer which was about to sail from that 
city to Paris, Ky., but just as he was going on board he 
heard that one of his West Point classmates had been 
imprisoned for debt, and went to see him. The delay 
cost him his passage ; for when he reached the levee the 
steamer had sailed without him, to his great regret, as 
he had expected to travel with a number of friends who 
were on board. Next day he sailed on another steamer, 
and on arriving at Smithland he found the steamer on 
which he was to have sailed lying at the wharf, disabled 
by the bursting of a boiler ; and when he went on board 
he saw the dead bodies of two members of the party 
with which he was to have traveled. Not one of the 
whole party had escaped injury. Dcejily thankful for 


his preservation, he reached liis home after a luissiouary 
journey of about five thousand miles, and remained there 
attending to his private affairs, except when visiting his 
mother at Raleigli, until he was ready to undertake his 
second \dsitation. 

His second missionary journey was chiefly over the 
same gi-ound as the first in Mississij)pi, Alabama, and 
Louisiana. It lasted continuously for six months, and 
was extremely laborious. He performed episcopal du- 
ties, it is true, consecrating churches and confirming the 
baptized ; but the clergj' were few, and his main work 
was that of an evangelist, preaching from house to 
house as he had opportunity, and constantly exhorting 
the people to care not only for their own souls, but for 
the spiritual welfare of their negroes, and to them he 
called their special attention. He soon began to per- 
ceive that if the work of the Church were to be done 
with efficiency, his vast jurisdiction would have to be 
supplied with more chief pastors. On his return he 
"wrote to Bishop Mcllvaine as foUows : 

CoLiniBiA, August 10, 1840. 
My dear Brother: We write at long intervals. Oui- cares, 
doubtless, increase and demand more of our time daily as we 
pass through life. I find it so. You must much more. But you 
have, you may be sure, the same place in my heart v.hicli has 
owned you as its tenant for these fourteen years, and I think 
you are quite likely to retain it to the last. I should have 
written you sooner after my return, but I saw by the papers 
you were on the Aving, and knew not your whereabouts. I 
sympathize with you in regard to yoiu* support. Notliing can 
be more trying than to wait upon the tardy movements of a 
thoughtless — I will not say thankless — people; and of all 
human ills, debt to a clergyman is, pei-haps, as grievous as 
pixiy. It is the parent of a large progeny, and they are all 
ax'mcd against the peace of the unhappy debtor. I was in- 


discreet enough some time since to endorse for a particular 
friend of mine — one of my communicants when I last had 
charge of a church; my vestryman, my warden, my right 
arm in every good work. He was all I could wish as a Chris- 
tian layman. But, alas, he was overtaken by reverses of the 
times and prostrated, and I am charged Avith the payment of 
a large amount on his account. If I escape with $15,000, I 
shall be thankful. But I wovdd do again what I did then, 
for I thought I was doing a good work. I mean, of course, 
in the same circumstances. It, however, greatly annoys me, 
as, besides the necessary attention in arranging and running 
the debt in banks, etc., it lessens my means of usefulness in 
that particular. I trust, however, that this state of things 
will have an end. 

How is it with regard to the consecration sermon *? Was 
there a balance due on that account not paid by the Cincin- 
nati congregation ? Bishoj) Meade dropped me a hne, not 
long since, concerning it. He thought you had been taxed 
with part of the exiDcnse. I thought otherwise, as Mr. Johns 
long ago wrote me that he only wanted one hundred dollars 
to make up the whole amount. This sum I sent him. Please 
speak of this in your next, as you ought not to have been 
burdened with it. You see I write freely, because to you I 
feel I may speak frankly, 

I see you have been in the East ; I suppose, to bring out 
your book. Did you find a pubhsher to your liking? I 
should hke to have met you there, but it was impossible. 
Up to the close of my last \dsitation I had been eighteen 
months in the episcopate, and had spent only four of the 
eighteen with my family at my own home, so that I felt that I 
could not go away this summer. I have fully seen the ground 
allotted me by the church, and found it was quite impossi- 
ble for me to do anything effectively over so wide an extent 
of country. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas 
embrace an area which would require two years of incessant 
active labor to visit as a bishop ought to visit a field assigned 
him, wnthout one day of rest intervening. It is in extent 
about equal to all of France, the surface exceeding rough, 

144 PUSEYISM. [1840 

and the facilities of communication, off the rivers, wi'etched, 
I have often felt strongly that a missionary bishop ought not 
to have a family. He should be literally married to the 
Church. He should have a thought for nothing else: a 
man of one idea, of one book, of one object. The work of 
his ]\Iaster demands the whole man. I often think of a re- 
mark tauntingly made by your fellow-laborer, the Romanist 
bishop of Ohio, to Campbell the Baptist, in their theological 
bout, when discussing the doctrine of the celibacy of the clergy. 
He asked Campbell if he did not think St. Paul would have 
cut a fine figure, while "visiting the churches of Asia, with a 
wife and seven screaming children following in his train ! 

Bishop Otey, not finding himself fully occupied in his dio- 
cese, or finding he might be as profitably engaged in dis- 
pensing occasional ser\T.ces elsewhere, has consented to take 
Mississippi under his care, which has lightened my labors to 
that extent. His health, however, is now bad ;. and I fear, 
unless he is soon relieved, he may be unable to labor any- 
where. He has gone to Virginia SpiTngs. 

How do you find the Eastern clerical mind on the subject 
of what is peculiarly Pusepsm ? I have not yet been able to 
see the tracts on Justification and Baptism. I have had those 
only which form the first part of the series, on the Apostohcal 
Succession, and found in them nothing which has not been 
written before. Seabury was less harsh than I expected, 
though his notice was in keeping with his system. 

What do you think of Whittingliam's sermon ? I liked it 
very much. It seems to me to carry ministers of the right 
stamp neither to outward order, nor outward academical or 
other merely human institutions or arrangement, but to the 
throne of gi-ace. 

He is, I fear, though, too rapid in his provisions for Texas. 
Three bishops are more than are at all necessary. One will 
do all the work to be done there for years ; two certainly. I 
suppose he wanted them to estabUsh a chm'ch at once, and 
cut off the occasion for a spurious episcopacy. 

Vei-y affectionately youi- brother in Christ, 

Leoxidas Polk. 

^t. 34] THIIW Ml,^Sl(JXAliY TO UK. 145 

In November, 1840, he set out on his third inissiouary 
visitation, travehng this time in a hght carriage drawn 
by a pair of stout horses and driven by one of his negro 
servants. In this conveyance he made his way to Mem- 
phis and thence to Little Rock, where the state of the roads 
compelled him to aljandon it, and he pursued his journey 
on horseback through the Indian Territory into Texas, 
returning through Louisiana and Mississippi to his home 
in Tennessee. The deep sense of responsibility by which 
he was controlled, and something, too, of the nature of 
the work in which he was engaged, may be gathered from 
the following extracts from letters to his mother : 

Little Rock, January 18, 1841. 
My dear mother wiU permit me to wish her a very happy 
New Year. I know not how otlier.s feel, but it appears to me 
as if, in the journey of life, when I get to this season, I am 
standing on the top of a high hill, up which I had been 
struggling from midsummer, and that from the heights I 
might cast my eye backward and foi'ward overlooking the 
months of the old year behind me and of the new before me. 
I feel always like stopping and standing still to caU up the 
recollections of the events of the one year and looldng for- 
ward to the duties of the other. 'This is the season at which 
we may particularly remember the things '* we have left 
undone which we ought to have done,'' and to think upon 
how much we have done that is sinful and what needs to 
be repented of. For myself, I feel that I have done but too 
little in accomplishing the end of my creation in the year that 
is now gone. I have meditated too little; I have humbled 
myself too infrequently before the throne of God ; I have 
been too seldom found in prayer ; I have watched against the 
intrusion of a worldly spirit too little ; t have thought too sel- 
dom of death, of its inevital^le certainty, of the necessity of 
being constantly prepared for it. I have not governed my 
temper as I ought ; I have not sufficiently hoarded my time 
and applied it to profltal^lc uses. All these things stand up 


before mc when I look back on the past ; and T resolve, with 
the strength and errace of God my Saviour, I will amend in all 
these things for the future year. I think thus : that multi- 
tudes have been swept by the hand of the ruthless destroyer 
into eternity dui'ing the year now gone, that as many are to 
follow after them in the year now begun ; and I ask myself if 
I should be, as I may be, of that number, how I shall feel 
wlien the summons comes. God grant that I may be neither 
terrified nor alarmed, but calm, composed, and at rest on the 
bosom of my compassionate Sa\'iour. I suggest these things, 
my dear mother, because they are prompted by the season and 
because they may be alike profitable to us both. 

I have now been near a month in Arkansas, \'isiting differ- 
ent parts of it, and I shall not be able to leave it and the 
Indian Territory west for a month hence. I go to the North- 
west in the course of next week, to Fayetteville, then to Fort 
Gibson, and across the Indian Teiritoiy to Fort Towson, 
thence over Red River and thi'ough Louisiana and Texas 
before I return. It is a sad trial to be so much absent from 
my family, but I am hoping it will not be so always. If pos- 
sible, I wish to be at home in May. 

I hope George has long been recovered from the ill tura he 
was suffering when I parted with him. My kind regards to 
him. You may say to him that I shattered the " buggy " very 
effectually coming through the swamp, and that I am now 
handsomely equipped with saddles, bridles, martingales, and 
saddle-bags, and that my fine buffalo-rug makes a veiy full 
covering for my own and Armstead's fixtures. I find the 
horses fine travelers under the saddle. IMy only apprehension 
is that we may attract the regards of the horse-thieves. But 
if we should, we must bow to a necessity that we cannot avoid. 

I had a letter from Fanny. AU well. . . . 

Pine Creek, Texas, February 2, 1841. 

My dear Mother: I wrote you not long ago from Little 

Rock, and sinct; that from Van Buren — no, I am mistaken — 

I wrote Fanny from that point, and also Mrs. Devereux from 

a point above in the Cherokee Nation. From that letter you 

^t. 34] ROUGH FARE. 147 

will hear of how and where I have been engaged. I have 
since then come across to this part of the world through the 
Choctaw country, and crossed Red River into Texas, this land 
of promise. I am now about fifteen miles above the mouth of 
the Kiamachis, and above Fort Towson. I came from Fort 
Towson hei'e to visit an Episcopal family of the name of John- 
son, from Baltimore. The father of the family, now dead, was 
a cousin of James Johnson. I go down the river to-day by 
the way of Gainsboro toAvard the part of the country where 
our kinsmen, the Hawkins, reside, thence into Arkansas and 

Spring Hill, Arkansas, February 10, 1841. 

I have dropped down some hundred miles from the point at 
which I was when I dated the above, and stopped, in coming 
down, at both Ben's and Henry's in Arkansas, and at William's 
in Texas. I crossed the river at Jonesboro and came into the 
Indian Territory, thence into Arkansas, and into Texas again 
to William's, and down some sixty miles on the Texas side [of 
the landing opposite this place] . 

I am going from this to Shi-eveport to-day, and I have con- 
cluded to take passage on a steamboat to that place, as one 
of my horses has the scratches, and I fear may fail. The mud 
thi'ough which I have had to force my way has seemed almost 
intolerable. I have had, as you may suppose, some rather 
rough fare. A few nights ago I had to pass the night in a 
cotton-house on the top of a pUe of cotton, with dogs and 
negroes lying around, aiid a hamper-basket to hang my 
clothes upon. But my health is good, and I manage, on the 
whole, to make myself comfortable. I travel with my buf- 
falo-robe and a supply of blankets. 

I shall be glad to hear from you at New Orleans, where I 
hope to be both going and returning from Texas. I go to 
to consecrate the church. 

I find Folly, one of your old carriage-horses, the finest sad- 
dle-horse I have ever traveled. He performs admirably, and 
is just what I want. You may say to George that the roan 
cannot keep pace with him, and I have feared I shall have to 
leave him. You see I write in great haste. 

148 llKUaiON IX LOUISIANA. [1S41 

April .'), Red River. 
3Iy dear Mother : I wrote you about a fortnight siuce from 
Lost Prairie, a thousand miles up this i-iver from the planta- 
tion of Messrs. Turner & Hamilton, giving- an account of my 
tour up to that time. The letter I hope you have received. 
Since that time I have been engaged at various points on 
this, performing services, preaching, visiting, etc. I am now 
on my way to Natchez, where we expect to be this evening. 
I find the field quite white to the harvest, and no laborer 
here. There is no portion of tlie whole country so destitute, 
I presume, as Louisiana. She has not, so far as I Icnow, a 
single church west of the jMississippi River ; and I find feAV 
or no Presbyterians, and only now and then a wandering 
:Methodist. The Sabbath is no Sa])bath here. The stores and 
shops are kept open just as on other days, and the planters 
and tradesmen look upon that day as a day set apart for lay- 
ing in supplies and doing odd jobs. And yet they express a 
desu-e to have churches estabUshed amongst them, and avow 
a willingness to support a minister should he come among 
them. At Natehitdoehes, where I spent a week, the better part 
of Passion Week, and where I was on Sunday last, I had to 
defer my Sunday services until twelve o'clock in order to get 
a congregation, as up to that time the people were engaged, 
by permission of an express statute of the pohee authorities, 
in trading at these stores, and this state of things obtahied 
tlu'oughout the coimtry on the river. I pi-eaehed a numljer 
of times there, — T think five, — and found my audience contin- 
ually increasing. ( )n tlie last occasion it was positively 
crowded, and I ]io])(' that good was done. We preached in 
tlie court-house. They were very anxious that T should re- 
main with them a month, promised to i>ut a subscription forth 
directly to build a cliurch, and i)le(lged themselves to support 
a minister if I would send them one. There are a good many 
French Catholics there. They set lightly by their rehgiou. 
IMany came to oui- services dunng the whole time I was there. 
We could make our impression not only on the American 
part of the population, 1)ut also on the French. T sliall take 
steps to endeavor to have their wants supplied. 1 stopped at 

^t. 34] HOBSE-THIEVES. 149 

Alexandi'ia, and also at another point in the midst of the 
Great Raft, called Shreveport in honor of the captain of the 
snag-boats who removed the Raft. Tliose points are desti- 
tute, as well as the country surrounding, the latter particu- 

The anticipation, mentioned in one of these letters, of 
an eneonnter with horse-thieves, was well founded. The 
countr}^ was overrun by desperadoes who were held in 
check only by the fear of desperate resistance. Riding 
on one occasion tlirough the Indian Territory, lie saw 
two men approaching, and knew, even at a distance, 
what they were. He rode quietly on, however, keeping 
an eye upon them, but otherwise giving no sign. They 
nodded to him as they passed, and he returned their 
salutation. That night lie stopped at the house of John 
Ross, the Cherokee cliief, and when he mentioned the 
incident and gave a description of the men, Ross con- 
gratulated him on his escape. The men, he said, were 
well-known ruffians, and he added, " They kncAV you 
must be well armed, or they would surely have attacked 
you." When the bishop assui-ed him that he was not 
armed, and that a man of his profession could not carry 
arms, Ross was at first unwilling to believe him, and said 
that it was dangerous for any one to go unarmed in that 
country. Throughout the evening he entertained his 
guest with cordial hospitality, but on bidding him fare- 
well in the morning the bishop noticed that he had 
become cold and distant. During the day he asked his 
servant whetlier anything had occurred to offend the 
cliief. The negro could not tell, but later said that after 
the bishop had retired Ross had asked if it was true that 
they traveled tlirough that country without weapons. 
''I was not going to let him and his ])eopl(^ tliiuk tliat 
aljout us," said the negro, "so I told him iliat we were 


always heavily anncd. And so you are," he continued. 
"Aren't you armed, master, with the sword of the Spirit ? " 
The cause of Ross's change of demeanor was obvious. 
He resented what he supposed to have been the bishop's 

Toward the close of his third visitation Bishop Polk 
came to the conclusion that some change in his an-ange- 
ments must be made, in order to obviate the necessity of 
such long-continued separations from his family. He 
did not for a moment think of abandoning his work ; 
and although he was convinced that his vast jurisdiction 
ought to be distributed into several jurisdictions under 
the care of several bishops, he had no assurance the 
Chm-ch would undertake the responsiliiiity of sending 
and supporting the men who were needed. There re- 
mained but one way in wliich the separation from his 
family might at least be shortened, namely, by the 
change of residence from Tennessee to some point 
nearer the geographical centei*- of his work, from which 
he might make shorter tours instead of one continuous 
visitation lasting many months at a time. For that 
reason chiefly he resolved, after due consideration, to 
purchase a plantation somewhere in Louisiana, and there 
make his home. 

The estate which he ultimately purchased was Leigh- 
ton, on Bayou La Fourche, aboiit sixty miles from New 
Orleans. The removal was, at best, a sad one. In spite 
of cares, his Tennessee home was very dear to him. He 
had many friends there, among whom he had hoi)ed and 
expected to pass his lifetime. His farm was doing well, 
and he had just finished arrangements for better service 
to his neighbors and their servants hy the erection of 
a commodious chapel, wliich he called St. John's, and 
which he consecrated during the last summer that he 

St. John's Church — Ashwood. 

^t.^o] ST. JOHN'S CHAP EL. 151 

was to spend in its neighborhood. It may be well worth 
while to insert here an account of St. John's and its 
mixed congregation, which was written at the time by a 
gentleman from Philadelphia : 

In this county, iipon the road leading from Columbia to 
Mount Pleasant, and aljout six miles from the former place, 
in a gi'ove of majestic and towering oaks, may be seen a neat 
brick church of simple Gothic architecture ; its inteiior plain 
and appropriate, and capable of seating five hundred persons. 
It has been just completed, and is the result of the joint liber- 
aUty of Bishop Polk and three of his brothers, who, with a 
spirit worthy of commendation and imitation, have thus de- 
voted a portion of the wealth with which God has blessed 
them to his service. 

Without aid from abroad these gentlemen have erected and 
paid for this edifice, and presented it, together with a plot of 
about six acres of land, to the diocese. The lot has been 
selected from an eligible portion of the bishop's j)kintation, 
within a few hundred yards of whose mansion the church 
stands. It has been erected for the convenience of the few 
families in the neighborhood, who, with a large number of 
negroes upon their plantations, will make quite a congrega- 
tion. For this latter class the bishop has been in the habit, 
for a long time past, of holding regular services in his own 
house. They will now have an opportunity of worshiping in 
a temple which they may almost call their own. 

After referring to the services in the church on the 
day of its consecration, the writer continues : 

There is yet one thing which I must not forget to notice. I 
have said that on the adjoining plantations there are negroes 
for whose spiritual good this church was in part erected. By 
the time the white congi'egation were seated in the body of 
the church, the door, the vestibule, the gallery, and stahease 
were crowded with blacks, even the vostry-room was filled 
with them, one old man sitting within the doorway almost at 


the very feet of the clergy. A happier group I have seldom 
seen. Some of them had prayer-books in their liands, but, 
for their general benefit in singing, the psalms and hymns 
were given out in the old-fashioned Avay — two lines at a 
time ; and, I am sure, during the singing, the loudest strains 
of praise came from the sable groups. 

When the whites had communed, a cordial invitation from 
the bishop was given to the blacks to come forward. At the 
same time he explained in a few words what was required of 
them in worthily partaking of that sacrament. Then quite a 
goodly number came, with much reverence and devotion, to 
that feast, precious ahke to bond and free. Ah ! could some 
of our friends have witnessed that scene, how it would have 
silenced the suspicion that a slaveholder values not the soul 
of his slave. 

Thus does the enlarged benevolence of these men embrace 
a class hitherto too much neglected, a class which, in our 
good city of brotherly love, are suffered to grovel in igno- 
rance, degi-adation, and sin. Here will they learn to worship 
God in spii-it and in truth ; here be taught to pray with the 
heart and with the imderstanding also ; and here, when death 
has arrested their com-se upon earth, will they find a restiug- 
place under the tall old oaks in their own churchyard ; for 
the lot upon which the church is built has, for some time, 
been set apart for the purpose. 

In Septeml)er, 1841, Bishop Polk left home to attend 
the Triennial General Convention of the Chm-cli, and 
while there he was invited by the deputies from Lou- 
isiana to accept the bishopric of their diocese. The 
request was approved by the House of Bishops, wliicli 
then proceeded to elect him, under a special canon, to 
the diocesan bishopric which had been offered to him. 
On October 16, 1841, the House of Deputies confirmed 
the election ; and on that day, ha\4ng resigned Ids mis- 
sionary jurisdiction, Leonidas Polk became Bishop of 



1841 TO 1854. 

Sacrifices by the bishop and his family. — The family position in Maury 
County. — Election of James K. Polk as President. — Family affection. — 
Family connections. — Becomes a planter at Leighton. — A noble motive, 
but disastrous result. — Incompatibility of sugar-planting and the 
episcopacy. — Death of the bishop's mother. — " The Old North State." — 
Patriarchal life at Leighton. — Southern hospitality. — A Southern 
house. — Children's rights. — Social life. — A family hospital. — An ag. 
gressive temperament.— Nobility of character. — Capacity for work. — 
The bishop's wife. — Family instruction. — Mammy Betsey. — Life among 
the slaves. — The "Rolling Ball." — Punch on a sugar-plantation. — Pun- 
ishing a chicken-thief. — An old-time Southern mammy.— Experience of 
a governess in the bishop's family. — The libi-ary. — Family devotions. — 
A baptism which did not " take." — Sunday-school among the negroes. 
— Death in the quarters. — Sanctity of family life. — Negro marriages. — 
Care of the negro children. — The beginning of troubles. — Private in- 
terests sacrificed to public duties. — The negroes' family pride. — The 
bishop's hopefulness. — 111 effects of optimism. — A woman's "slow 
courage." — Routine of the mistress of a Southern plantation. — Litera- 
ture at Leighton. — The cholera. — Hospital work. — The bishop attacked 
by cholera. — Death of a faithful servant. — Loss of crops. — Loss by 
tornado. — Trust in God. — Robbed by breach of trust. — Prosperity of 
episcopal work. — Ravages of yellow fever. — Leighton taken by credi- 
tors. — Purchases in Mississippi. — Removal to New Orleans. — Appointed 
rector of Trinity Church. — The bishop's pastoral and episcopal cliai-- 
acter. — Developing one's individual character. — Parochial administra- 
tion. — A stickler for episcopal dignity and rights. — Power of rebuke. 

While there were personal disadvantag:es connected 
with Bishop Polk's removal to Louisiana, tlie CLnrch was 
ejreatly the gainer. To the bisliop and his family tlie re- 


154 THE POLK FAMILY. [1842 

moval from Tennessee, as has been said, involved many 
saci'ifices. In Maury County and its neighborhood tlie 
Polk family held a commanding position. All of Colonel 
William Polli's sons, except Thomas, had been settled 
there for several years. Many of their cousins had estates 
there, and were known as wealthy and successful men. 
One of them, James K. Polk, was elected President of 
the United States in 1844. The affection existing among 
these numerous kinsmen was unusually strong, and their 
relations to each other were entirely harmonious. Natu- 
rally they had formed connections with other families 
of similar position. Mr. Lucius Polk, for example, had 
married a relative of President Jackson, and the mar- 
riage had been celebrated at the White House in Wash- 
ington. Thus, the Polk family of Tennessee enjoyed a 
social life and a public influence which was really excep- 
tional, and in their almost patriarchal society the bishop 
held the chief place of affection and distinction. At the 
time of his election to Louisiana he had made arrange- 
ments for the management of his private affairs which 
would have released him to a great extent from the per- 
sonal supervision of private business, and would have 
left him free to devote his whole time to the Church 
while his family resided in a country noted for its beau- 
ty and salubrity. His acceptance of the episcopate of 
Louisiana had this great compensation, however, that it 
would permit him to make shorter visitations, so that, 
while a large part of his time must be spent away from 
home in the performance of official duties, his absences 
would at least be less trying to himself and his family. 

But this great advantage was to some extent offset by 
the necessity of encumbering himself with large and 
heavy business cares. Mrs. Polk, on the death of her 
mother, had inherited a considerable estate, and it was left 

yEt. 36] A DISASTROUS STEP. 155 

to her choice either to accept her share of her mother's 
property in money, or to take hnndreds of negroes who 
had belonged to Mrs. Devereiix. The easiest course for 
the bishop would have been to take the money and avoid 
the care of managing a large plantation. But Louisiana 
was distinctively a plantation State ; and the bishop felt 
that in order to exercise the best influence in a commu- 
nity of planters, he himself must be a planter. His mis- 
sion was to the servant as well as to the master ; and he 
beheved that an example of dutiful care of his own peo- 
ple on his own estate would be the best possible exposi- 
tion of the duty of the master to the slave. Accordingly, 
Leighton was bought, and the bishop with his family 
took possession of it with four hundred negroes. The 
motive was altogether noble and unselfish ; the result 
was utterly disastrous. The management of so complex 
and exacting an estate as a sugar plantation on that 
scale was inconsistent with the full performance of epis- 
copal duty; and as the latter was not neglected, the 
former suffered. The accidents and losses incident to 
sugar-planting, which another man might have retrieved, 
and which the bishop would easily have retrieved but 
for his episcopal occupations, plunged him into financial 
embarrassments and ended in an almost total loss of his 
whole property, for, as he afterward said, " If I had had 
nothing else on my hands but my worldly affairs, I should 
have experienced no difficulty. But I have been, of 
course, very much hampered by my other engagements, 
which to me must be always of paramount importance." 
It is not intended here to write the history of Bishop 
Polk's episcopate in Louisiana. In its details it differed 
little from the work of the episcopate in other new coun- 
tries. It had peculiar difficulties, of course, on account 
of the lack of facilities of travel, and still more on ac- 

156 SUNDAY LABOB. [1842 

count of the character of the population, whicli, outside 
of New Orleans, was then chiefly composed of French 
Creoles, adherents of the Roman Catholic Church. Suf- 
fice it to say that in the eighteen years which followed 
his attendance at his first diocesan convention in Louisi- 
ana in January, 1842, he had the satisfaction to see the 
Church increase in the number of its clergy more than 
sevenfold, in the number of its communicants more than 
tenfold, and in the number of its parishes and missions 
more than twentyfold. The present chapter will be de- 
voted to a rapid review of the bishop's life dm-ing the 
fifteen years following his removal to Leighton rather 
than to a record of his official acts, and in this review 
the "\\Titer is glad to avail himself of documents wliich 
have been kindly placed at his disposal. 

Wlien Bishop Polk removed to Louisiana it was the 
universal custom of .sugar-planters throughout the season 
of cane-grinding to keep their mills running without in- 
termission, even on Sunday. It was held on all hands, 
even by devout religious persons, that Sunday labor at 
that season must be regarded as a work of necessity, 
since a single frost might at any time greatly diminish 
the value of their crops. The bishop, liowever, resolved 
that he and all his family must keep the Lord's Day hoi}', 
and that, be the consequences what they might, his ser- 
vants should not work on that day. It was in vain that 
his neighbors remonstrated against this innovation on 
the customs of the country. They urged the loss which 
he would surely suffer soon or late ; they represented 
to him that the negroes on the neighboring plantations, 
when required to work on Sunday, would become dissat- 
isfied and discontented ; and his overseer predicted that, 
by the loss of one day in seven, his sugar-making would 
be so diminished that his reputation as a practical man 


of business would necessarily suffer. To all this the 
bishop replied that the course he had adopted was the 
only course consistent Avith his duty as a Christian ; that 
by divine command the man-servant and the maid-ser- 
vant of his neighbors had the same right as his own to 
one day of complete rest ; that, in his opinion, he would 
not fall much, if at all, behind his neighbors in the sav- 
ing of his crops ; and that, come what might, he would 
do what he believed the law of God required. Gradually 
his course gained the approval of his neighbors. Within 
a few years his example was generally followed, and he 
had the satisfaction of knowing that it entailed no serious 
loss to the interests of the planters. 

In 1845 the bishop's mother died. The deep love 
which he bore her was warmly expressed in a letter to 
his sister, Mrs. Kenneth Raynor, of North Carolina. 

Thibodeaux, January 10, 184G. 
On my return from New Orleans a few days since, I read 
your letter informing me of the death of our dear mother. 
How deeply the stroke came upon us you may well imagine. 
The presence of such a mother, if not within immediate access, 
at least within reach, of one so wise, so prudent, so kind, so 
affectionate, so generally tender, is a blessing, from my expe- 
rience of life, but rarely enjoyed. The perfect consciousness 
of that which was right, and the firm and more than feminine 
decision with which it was invariably pursued, gave to her 
character an elevation the more imposing because of the 
simplicity and naturalness out of which these traits so con- 
spicuously shone. She was to us the best blessing God ever 
gave us, and we cannot be adequately grateful for the mercy. 
One thing, however, we may do, and that is, by humbly and 
piously giving our whole hearts to God, to seek to manifest a 
purpose at least to nnitate her virtues and finally be sharers 
of her reward. 


The twelve years of his residence at Leighton passed 
rapidly, and, in spite of all misfortunes, happily away. 
Mrs. Polk, in notes which she wrote for her childi*en 
long afterward, said : 

These were happy days. In the winter we had our friends 
with us. In the summer we were quiet and sometimes alone ; 
and how I enjoyed those little inteiwals of leisure! They 
were very few, and when I sometimes complained how httle I 
saw of him, he would always answer, with his pleasant smile, 
" Never mind, wife ; we shall have time enough in heaven." 

The bishop himself described his home life in a letter 
to his sister : 

My wife and children are aU now with me, and I am enjoy- 
ing their society greatly, at no time more. I pass my time in 
the instruction of Hamilton and Fanny ; my daughter in 
mathematics and the classics, Hamilton alone in the latter, my 
study hours being from nine a.m. till two P.M. I am highly 
pleased to witness then* advancement, which I would fain 
beheve quite as decisive as it has hitherto been under in- 
structors less interested in their improvement. 

They all sing, and that pleases me. Should you hear us 
sometimes accompan\-ing the piano to " The Old North State," 
you would think we were hearty lovers of ah her simphcity, 
her honesty, and her pines — as we assuredly claim to be. So 
much for my children. And now when are we to see you and 
yours ? I hope during the next winter. I go to the General 
Convention, and presume I wUl be in Raleigh, but I cannot 
promise. I will if I can. 

The home life at Leighton was one of patriarchal sim- 
plicity and beauty. A niece of Mrs. Polk, who passed 
nearly a j'ear there, has thus recorded her recollections 
of it: 

Leighton, the residence of Bishop Polk in Louisiana, was a 
large comfortable house, which wore at all seasons an air of 

uEt. 40] A LOUISIANA HOME. 159 

clieerful, hearty hospitality, such as can only be imparted to a 
home from the hearts of its master and mistress. 

The lawn in front sloped to the Bayou La Fourche, and 
was surrounded by a magnificent hedge of Cherokee roses, 
which, growing in the wild luxuriance that vine attains in a 
genial chmate, was in some places twelve or fifteen feet broad 
across the top, and perfectly impenetrable to all but the 
smallest bu-ds. The house, with its long roof sloping in one 
unbroken line from the ridge-pole to the eaves of the lower 
piazza, stood well back from the parish road in front, and 
from the plantation road by wliich it was approached at the 
side, and which separated the gi-ounds from the cane-fields 
and the negro quarters. The back lawn, containing the of- 
fices and the rooms of the house servants, was divided from 
the stables by a hedge of fig-trees, any one of which would 
have served the purpose of Zaceheus and supported a small- 
sized man on its limbs. 

Here for nearly a year I was made to feel that I was one of 
the children of the household. The wide portico in front — 
on which looked the windows of the front parlor, the hall, 
the bishop's study, and Mrs. Polk's bedroom — was the after- 
noon summer parlor, where the family gathered, and, with the 
hall itself, was the play-room of the children. It was one of 
the bishop's maxims that "children had rights as well as 
grown folks," and one of their rights, most strenuously in- 
sisted on and protected, was the freedom of the whole house. 
He would never allow the smallest of them to be confined to 
the nursery. He used to say that good manners could be 
taught to girls and boys, but that easy, unconscious ones 
must be inhaled with the air of their daily life. Mrs. Polk, 
who had been brought up in the strictest manner, used some- 
times to make spasmodic efforts to introduce a little of its 
spirit into her government, but the genial nature of the 
bishop would always in the end conquer her scruples. I 
have often heard her laugh, and say, " Father is away so 
much that of course it is holiday when he comes homo, and 
I believe I need a holiday as well as the children." She felt 
that she could afford to relax the reins when his hand was 

100 SOCIAL LIFE. [184G 

near to tierliten them, if needful, and guide the wild yomig 
creatures over the rough places of life. 

The life at Leighton was preeminently sociable. Scarcely 
two consecutive days passed without company to breakfast, 
dinner, or tea, and the "prophet's chamber" was seldom 
empty for more than a week at a time. But company was 
never allowed to inteniipt the family routine. Lessons went 
on at the usual hours, and Mrs. Polk attended to her house- 
hold duties, while the guests entertained themselves in the 
parlors or the bishop's study, or in stroUing or riding with 
him over the cane-fields, or in the more serious duty of going 
through the hospital, which the bishop visited daily whenever 
there was a patient in it. 

Guests from New Orleans frequently came up unexpectedly, 
and it was no uncommon thing to see the steamer stop at the 
front gate and deposit a passenger who came for a day or a 
week, sure of a welcome and a lodging ; for the house was so 
large that it was seldom filled to the utmost, and there was 
always room at the table for all who came. 

Nor was it only the spiritual welfare of his neighbors and 
friends that he had at heart ; he was always endeavoring to 
improve their temporal condition as well, and on his visits to 
the General Convention he never omitted learning all he 
could respecting the improvements in the manufacture of 
sugar, seeing new machinery, and testing it himself before 
trying to introduce it among the planters around him. 

The bishop used to say of himself that he was "naturally 
aggi'essive," and I tliink he was right ; but a yet stronger 
trait of his character, and one which he cultivated instead of 
repressed, was his strong sense of justice and desire to deal 
it out as impartially to his opponents as to his friends. Al- 
though anything approaching deceit or prevarication always 
excited his contempt and indignation, I have heard liim more 
than once, after giving way and expressing these feehngs, 
add in a softened tone : " But I must not be too hard on it. 
It is the failing of the weak in mind and body, and the nat- 
ural result of fear." He always sought to instill into the 
hearts of his ohildron that perfect love which casteth out 

.Et. 40] MBS. FOLK'S CHARACTEE. 16l 

fear, and he used often to say that where fear of punish- 
ment was the predominant feehng in the heart of a child, 
deceitfulness would inevitably be the result. His capacity 
for work was very great, but I think he was able to accom- 
plish much in a short time because he possessed in an emi- 
nent degree the ability to throw off business thoughts in the 
hours of relaxation, which hours were always spent in the 
family circle. Five minutes after he left his study he was 
the ''biggest boy" of the family, singing comic songs, tell- 
ing amusing stories, or entering into the play of the moment 
with a real and vm affected zest which rendered father the 
" best fellow in the woi-ld," as I once heard his youngest son 
say at the mature age of six and a half. To make a kite for 
this youngster and then help him to fly it was a delight to 
both ; and he once carried into the pulpit a black eye which 
he had received when helping to raise a kite which was too 
lai'ge for the boy to manage alone. 

I cannot close these recollections [adds Mrs. Polk's niece] 
without mention of the woman who was the presiding influ- 
ence of this home. A daughter of John Devereux, of The 
Ferns, County Wexford, Ireland, and Frances Pollok, she 
was a great-granddaughter of Thomas Pollok, of Balgra, 
Scotland, president of the colony of North Carolina and 
major-general of the colonial forces. But she also was a 
descendant of Jonathan Edwards, her grandmother being 
Eunice Edwards, the sixth daughter of that illustrious man. 
Of unusual character and intelligence, Mrs. Polk passed a 
long and eventful life in fullest sympathy with her husband. 

I was married under his roof ; and turning to me after he 
had performed the ceremony, he said, in the hearing of all 
assembled: "After living a year in the house with yom- aunt, 
you do not need any homilies from me on the duties of a 
good wife. I can only tell your husband that, if you profit 
by her example, he will find he has di-awn a prize." Left for 
months at a time the head not only of the house, but of the 
plantation, Mrs. Polk was always ready and competent to 
meet any exigencies that might arise in the direction of 
either. She never assumed responsibilities, but never shrank 

1G2 A LOVING LAW. [18-iG 

from bearing any that her position imposed upon hor, gladly 
easting them all outwardly on her husband's shoulders when 
he returned, and then becoming apparently his aid only, 
Avhile in reality she was the mainspring of the household. 
Quietly conscious of her power with others, she was, unfor- 
tunately for him, timid in maintaining any opinion in oppo- 
sition to the bishop, and too ready to say, " Well, you know 
best." In fact, it was often she who knew best, and, had she 
asserted herself, she could have gained her point, for htr 
opinion had the gi'eatest weight with him, Slie had a clear 
business head, gi-eat executive ability, a remarkable power of 
finding out the resources of others, and the faculty of making 
them available. She was well read in the literature of the 
day, and always had some book on her work-table, which she 
picked up at spare moments. It was her custom to talk to 
her children of what she was reading, even when the book 
itself was beyond their comprehension ; but she had the happy 
art of making portions of it so simple that they were inter- 
ested in the nan-ative. " What is you reading, — ' Robinson 
Crusoe' ?" asked a little one of five years old one day, pulling 
out of her mother's hand a copy of Hugh Miller's '' Testimony 
of the Rocks." ''No, my pet; I am reading about rocks." 
" The rocks that broke his ship aU to pieces ?" " Yes ; would 
you like to hear how they came there ? " Then followed, in 
language that the Uttle girl could understand, an account of 
the coral-reefs of the Pacific, all made by a tiny insect, of 
which rock formation tlie young lady, it is needless to say, 
had hitherto no knowledge beyond her necklace and the 
baby's coral and bells. 

Between Bishop Polk and his wife, though unlike in many 
respects, there was that confidence and harmony which so 
often attain the highest perfection between persons of dis- 
similar character. Indeed, each was a loving law unto the 
other. Among JNIrs. Polk's characteristics the most promi- 
nent were her entire sincerity and ingenuousness; and the 
charm of life at Leighton was its simplicity and good-heart- 
edness. Her devotion to her husband, her children, her 
neighbors, the bond and the free, was a part of her char- 

^t.40] THE ''ROLLING BALL:' 163 

acter, — simple, natiu*al, and without display. A noble wo- 
man, fit helpmate for the niau who was her husband. 

Mrs. Polk's prime minister in the government of the house- 
hold was Mammy Betsey, who had been her maid before 
marriage, and had afterward become her housekeeper. Dear, 
good Mammy ! We all loved her as though she were '' kin to 
us." Her one object in life was to please Master and '' Miss 
Fanny," as she always called her mistress, and to take care 
of their children. "• Faithful unto death " was she, and no 
memory of Leighton is complete that does not bring to mind 
her tall figure, dignified carriage, and untiring efforts to 
make all under its roof comfortable, not only for their own 
sakes, but for the "credit of the family." Often have 1 
heard her impress on the younger servants the necessity of 
cultivating good manners, so that, when ladies and gentle- 
men came in master's and mistress's absence, they might be 
received with ** credit to the family." So trulj' and fully 
indeed did the spirit of hospitality pervade this household, 
that even the servants were imbued with it, and would have 
felt any deficiency in that respect as a reflection on them- 

The servants had their own gatherings, at which master 
and mistress always appeared for a few moments. The 
" Rolling Ball," which was given every Avinter at the close of 
the cane-rolling season, was a scene of general jollity, when 
dance and music were carried far into the night. The sup- 
per for this ball was superintended by Mammy Betsey, and 
the viands served were as well cooked and as good of their 
kind as if prepared for the master's table. Punch, made of 
the half-boiled juice of the sugar-cane and green limes, was 
concocted by old Washington, who served it out to the guests 
until, as he used to say, " The fumes of it, marster, makes me 
quite stupid-like ; but I ain't drunk, only just smelling of it." 
*'No, old fellow," the bishop would reply, "I look to you set- 
tled ones to set a good example for the yoiing folks, and I am 
sure you will do so." It was by taking it for granted that 
they would do what was right, and appealing to their self- 
respect, that he strove to govern his negroes. But woe to the 

l(U MAMMY BETSEY. [l.S4(i 

offender who persisted iu liis offenses ; for, although his pun- 
ishment was delayed, it was sure to come. I remember that 
a persistent chicken- thief was made to stand for several hours 
one Sunday with the stolen property tied round his neck, 
fluttering and clucking, to the great amusement of the other 
negroes. The plantation affairs were family affairs as well, 
and the negroes were punished for offenses in the same spirit 
as the children. 

Taken all in all, I have never seen a more homelike home 
than that of Bishop Polk at Leighton. It was a fit shi-ine for 

That tender heart that felt for eveiy woe, 
That dauntless soul that feared no human pride, 

That friend of man, to vice alone the foe, 
Whose every failing leaned to virtue's side. 

The Mammy Betsey referred to in these recollections of 
Leighton has passed from among us. She died in New 
Orleans, October 2, 1874. The name of this lifelong attend- 
ant of the Polk and Devereux famihes was Betsey McKethan. 
She was born on the plantation of John Devereux, of The 
Roanoke, North CaroHna, January 1, 1800 ; and, to para- 
phrase Heine, she was held in the estimation of all those of 
her household to be the "first woman of her century.'' On 
the maiTiage of jMiss Devereux to the Rev. Mr. Polk, Betsey 
followed the fortunes of her young mistress. She was a 
lifelong communicant of the Episcoj^al Chm-ch, and her life 
was an embodiment of its precepts. She did her duty in that 
state of life into which it pleased God to call her. She ^s^-is 
the trusted coanselor of the household to which she belongeu, 
Neither wars nor revolutions sufficed to shake her steadfast 
fidelity. She lived to see the children and grandchildren of 
the family reach the thu-d generation. Her hands, which 
tended so many of them in the cradle and presented them 
for the holy waters of baptism, had too often, alas ! robed 
them for the tomb. In all the chances and changes of hfe 
she was to them not only the tender nurse of infancy and 
illness, but the common friend, the healer of differences, the 
sharer of their joys, the consoler of their gi'iefs. 

^t. 40] BOYAL NEGIil) BLOOD. 1(J5 

Honored by all who knew her, the lofty as well as the 
lowly, especially did those of her own race find in her an 
adviser and friend. With just pride they may cite her gentle 
ministrations, her purity of life, her unostentatious piety, as 
a proof that Sisters of Charity are not all of one creed nor of 
one color. She brought up her own children in the fear of 
God. To her they owe the lessons which have made them 
upright, rendering to all their due, and entitled to the respect 
of the community. Her mistress was not able to join the 
band of heartfelt mourners which followed her to the gi-ave ; 
but she, who knew her best, wrote her truest eulogy in these 
few words: '^Her life was an example. God grant that 
death may find each of us as well prepared." 

" At five P.M. on the day of her funeral in New Orleans," 
says an eyewitness, '* I picked my way through a crowd of 
respectable and j)olite negro men, who were standing on the 
banquette, to the house of mourning. I then entered a small 
room, hung with the usual adornments of grief, and occu- 
pied by the quiet and well-behaved assemblage of her friends. 
There lay the neat coffin, covered with flowers, the kind 
gift of ladies, and at its head stood the daughters of 
Mammy's former mistress. In a small adjoining room were 
several other ladies, awaiting the removal of the body to 
the little Prytania Street Chapel, where the services were 
to be held. On our arrival there stood the venerable, 
deeply loved pastor of Christ Church (Dr. Leacock), who 
was also the rector of the chapel, ready to perform the last 
rites over the inanimate body, Uttle heeding the color of 
the casket which had so lately contained that priceless soul. 
As those solemn words, 'I am the resurrection and the life, 
saith the Lord,' were spoken, there was a quiver in the voice 
of him who read them ; for he had known and esteemed and 
felt a strong affection for the departed." 

Mammy's grandmother, so tradition goes, was an im- 
ported princess of some pretensions ; and, if true royalty 
consists in gentleness, kindness, and an intuitive perception 
of right, then Mammy's life amply proved her claim to the 
possession of royal blood. Her stanch unchanging devo- 


tion and active gratitude to her master's children stand not 
alone in the experience of many a Southern family, strange 
as it may seem to those who never knew plantation life. 

Miss Beauehamp, an accomplislied lady who was for 
three years the resident g:overness of the family, wi-ites 
as follows : 

My first introduction to Bishop Polk was through letters 
which I brought from my own diocesan, the Bisliop of Cork, 
and from the Chief Baron of tlie Exchequer in Dublin, ad- 
dressed to the Bishop of Louisiana. I found a happy home 
in the charming family on Bayou La Fourche. The bishop's 
residence was a large plantation-house, sun'ounded by a 
flower-garden and handsome grounds. He had a good li- 
brary of choice theological works, and INIrs. Polk's book- 
shelves were furnished with the best productions of modern 

I knew before I came to this country that slaveiy existed 
here, and I expected to see the black servants treated with 
much less consideration than the white domestics in my own 
coimtry ; to my surprise, I found that quite the contrary 
was the case. There was a host of servants at Bishop Polk's ; 
they were on more familiar terms with the family, were 
more kindly nursed in illness and more carefully watched 
over at all times, than I ever knew servants to be in the 
old country. Tlie familiarity at first somewhat shocked my 
European notions. T did not, I confess, like all the shaking 
of black hands that I found was the fashion. The house- 
hold, white and black, assembled every morning before 
breakfast in the parlor. The psalms for the day were read, 
a psalm or hymn was sung by all ; the bishop read and ex- 
pounded a chapter of the Bible, and then prayed. He was 
fond of the Proverbs. If there had been any dereliction 
of duty amongst children or servants, they were sure to hear 
of it at these morning readings, when the culprit perfectly 
well understood for whom the principal part of the lecture 
was intended, though probably no one else did. 


I was one day lookiug from luy window up-slairs, and I 
saw the three youngest children at play in the front yard. 
One asked her brother to get her some roses that were hang- 
ing in rich clusters over a small side-gate. He said, " No ; 
mother has forbidden us to climb on that gate." The little 
one was persistent, would have the flowers, and the boy, 
like i^oor Adam, and many a good man from that day to 
this, was about to yield to the blandishments of beauty and 
break the commandment,— not for an apple, but a rose. Just 
then the other little girl said, with an air of reproof, and 
exactly in her father's tone, " My son, if sinners entice thee, 
consent thou not." This brought both delinquents to a sense 
of their duty. I Avas exceedingly amused at such an appro- 
priate application of the Proverb. 

The bishop, who would at times be away for weeks on 
visitations through his diocese, always brought on his re- 
turn joy and happiness to the entii-e household. He would 
amuse us for days with a recital of his adventures in the 
border region of Louisiana and with the people he would 
sometimes meet there. On one occasion, having been up 
the Red River, where an Episcopal clergyman was seldom 
seen, he was called on to baptize a sturdy flve-year-old 
youngster who defiantly resisted the sacrament unless his 
black Fidus Achates, Jim, should receive it at the same time. 
" Well," said the bishop, "bring in Jim, and I will make a 
Christian of him, too." Accordingly Jim, duly instructed 
by his mistress, was brought into the parlor ; the pair went 
through the ceremony with perfect propriety, and were dis- 
missed to their play. Meanwhile, the friends and neiglibors 
who had called to assist at the baptism and pay their re- 
spects to the bishop sat in solemn state awaiting the an- 
nouncement of dinner. Small-pox had been lurking in the 
country. Every one was excited on the subject of vaccina- 
tion, and discussions as to whether it had taken on this or 
that subject had been the order of the day for more than 
a week. Suddenly the circle was astounded by the re- 
appearance of Jim, who exclaimed, almost breathless with 
excitement, "Mislis! Mistis! you must have Marse Tom 


baptized over agin. It never tuck that ar time. He's out 
yonder cussin' the steei's worse than ever, and says he ain't 
gwine to stop for nobody!" The ice melted at once, and 
the stiffness of the circle vanished as the bishop tui-ned to 
the hostess and said, " A commentary on the doctrine of 
baptismal regeneration, ray dear madam." 

Every Sunday afternoon all the negi'oes on the plantation 
came np to the house, and were taught by Mrs. Polk, her 
daughters, and myself in various classes. Singing entered 
largely into the exercises, many of the negroes having a 
taste for music, and some of them excellent voices. My 
class consisted of grown-up boys. I found it very difficult 
to keep them awake, no matter how edifying I fancied my 
instructions to be. 

The ceremonies of marriage and baptism were always 
performed by the bishop himself, and the names chosen by 
the negroes were sometimes very amusing. Many of them 
could read, and they showed their appreciation of Greek 
mythology and Shakspere by the number of ]Minervas and 
Ophelias amongst them. One Sunday twenty-five little negro 
infants were taken into the bishop's arms and christened. 
Though the scene was a very impressive and interesting one, 
yet some of the names were so droll to my ears that I could 
scarcely preserve a becomiiig gravity. One was named 
" Crystal Palace," another " Vanity Fair," etc., but when 
a little creature, black as Erebus, and squalling, with its 
mouth extended to an enormous size, was taken into the 
bishop's arms to be named " Prince Albert," it was impos- 
sible for me to resist any longer, and a heavy fit of coughing, 
gotten up for the occasion, saved me from a reproving look 
from the good bishop. 

An eminent clergyman of the diocese describes a visit 
he made to Loio-hton ; 

In the early afternoon, in company with a brother clergy- 
man, I drove up to the plantation of the bisliop to attend the 
exercises of what he called his colored Sunday-school. Ap- 
proaching the mansion, we heard voices witliin singing the 

^1^11.40] .1 FAMILY SUNHAY-SCIKXjL. 1(5!) 

church songs. lu the largest room of th(! house the servants 
were already assembled, to the number perhaps of sixty or 
eighty, in their Sunday garments, ranged in two lines facing 
each other, with a considerable space between, in which the 
chaplain of the plantation stood conducting their devotions. 
At one end of the room, near the head of the lines of servants, 
the bishop was seated with two or three invited guests. 
Among these we now took our place. The rehgious exercises 
being ended, the female servants were withdrawn to another 
apartment, the males remained to be examined by the chap- 
lain. Questions on the elementary principles of the Christian 
religion were put and answered with readiness and accuracy. 
H^'mns were sung and anthems chanted, the whole service 
exhibiting the care with which they had been instructed and 
their interest in the exercises. 

After this we were conducted by the bishop into another 
room. There we found the female servants, numbering 
twenty or more, seated on forms in front of a lady, the 
governess of the bishop's family, as we were then told, who 
was engaged in giving oral instruction to this portion of the 
household. Again questions were put and answered and 
hymns sung, as before. 

Leaving this apartment, we passed into a third chamber, 
and were introduced into what the bishop caUed the " infant 
department" of his Sunday-school. Seated on two benches 
was a class composed of the smaller colored children of the 
place, attending the teaching of one of the young daughters 
of the bishop, who seemed not a little embarrassed by what 
was probably an unexpected intrusion upon her labors. The 
time had now arrived for the closing exercises of the day. 
The whole school re-assembled in the great hall, another hymn ; 
was sung, and prayers were offered by the chaplain, after 
which the bishop rose from his knees, and, with his hands ex- 
tended over the company, in his usually impressive manner, 
pronounced the apostolic benediction, reahzing, so it seemed 
to me, as nearly as anything in those days could, the idea of 
the early patriarch, when he gathered his household together 
and gave them his blessing. 

Taking the hand of the bishop at parting, T could not for- 

170 A WEDDING SCENE. [1846 

boar expressing my impressions. It was tlien he told me tlie 
miiiil)er of communicants he had ainont^ his people — a large 
proportion J I do not recollect the number — whose Christian 
walk, he said, compared with that of any equal number of 
white persons, was as generally consistent; and he added 
that, in the cabins of many, prayers were said with as much 
regidarity as in his own family. 

To this let me add another incident, which I heard from 
the lips of the bishop himself. An aged and sick servant — I 
believe a favorite with his master — having an impression that 
his end was near, sent to ask the bishop to come and see him. 
The cabin was already well filled with the fellow-servants of 
the dying man. The master approached the bedside, and, 
after some conversation, inquired if he would like to have 
prayers offered. Looking around the company, and recogniz- 
ing one in whose personal piety he had the greatest confidence, 
the bishop requested him to lead in the devotion. The prayer 
offered on the occasion was so simple, earnest, reverential, and 
appropriate, and, though delivered in the rude terms of an 
uneducated servant, so expressive of the truth and power of 
Christian experience, that upon his Avay back to liis ovra house, 
the passage of Scripture, " The first shall be last and the last 
first," was continually forcing itself upon the reflections of the 

We cannot forbear adding to these sketches the fol- 
lowing recollections by one of liis daughters : 

The greatest efforts were made by the bishop to preser\'e 
among his sei-vants the sanctity of family Ufe. Their wed- 
dings were always celebrated in own home; the broad 
hall was decorated for the occasion with evergi'eens and flow- 
ers, and illuminated with many Ughts. The bride and groom 
(all decked in wedding garments presented by Mrs. Polk), 
with their attendants, were ushered quietly into their master's 
presence. The honor coveted by the bishop's children, and 
given as the reward of good behavior, was to hold aloft the 
silver candlesticks while their father read the marriage ser- 


vice. A wedding-supper always followed (in a large room 
used on such occasions, where were spread every variety of 
meats, cakes, and sweets, provided by the master and mistress) , 
after which all invited guests joined the bride and gi-oom in 
making merry, to the soimd of " fiddle, banjo, and bones," until 
the small hours of the night. If the couple had misbehaved, 
they were compelled to atone for it by marriage. In that 
case there was no display, but the guilty pair were sum- 
moned from the field, and in their working-clothes, in the 
study, without flowers or candles, were made husband and 

The children of the servants were well cared for. A day- 
nursery was estabhshed under the charge of good nurses. 
This department Mrs. Polk was particularly interested in. 
Every Monday morning the head nurse, with her assistants, 
was required to bring the children to be inspected by Mrs. 
Polk, who examined carefully into the condition of each child, 
and had a gift of the much-prized beaten biscuit and tea- 
cakes for them all. 

AU departments that tended to the well-being of the ser- 
vants were looked into. Those women who were unable to 
work in the field were assigned to duty as seamstresses. The 
work-room was in one end of a large building set apart as a 
hospital. Here the head nurse, who had been carefully in- 
structed by her mistress in cutting and sewing, as well as in 
the care of the sick, superintended the making of clothing for 
the field-hands. Others again, too old to undertake sewing, 
did the knitting for the hands ; each had her cards and spin- 
ning-wheel, with which she soon changed the raw material 
into soft, smooth yarn. The hospital was a large, well- venti- 
lated building, divided into male and female wards; here 
everything that contributed to the comfort of the sick was 
provided, and the wards when occupied were daily inspected 
by either the bishop or Mrs. Polk. 

During aU the year, except in the sugar-making season of 
three months, the field-servants had each week a certain task 
allotted them ; as soon as that was completed their time was 
their own. Each family had its hen-house and garden, and 


seed to plant for their own use ; the industrious always had 
good gardens, the products of which they could convert into 
money if they chose ; frequently offerings of the first-fruits 
were brought to " IVIarster and IVIistiss," for which they were 
duly compensated. A large plantation-garden was cultivated 
by the older men, too old for field-hands, but who had to be 
employed. The vegetables, fresh from the garden, were taken 
each day to the plantation kitchen, where good cooks prepared 
the meals for the field-hands. These women were held re- 
sponsible for the food being well cooked and in sufficient 
quantities to satisfy the best appetites. 

But, as a close friend of Mrs. Polk has but too truly 

written, — 

Leighton proved an extensive and expensive estate. Sugar- 
planting is a costly process. Close management is necessary, 
and the master's watchful eye. A succession of bad seasons, 
with low prices, began the destruction of the fortune which 
they had brought into the State. Necessaiily the bishop was 
often absent from home, riding through the wilds of Arkan- 
sas or the swamps of Louisiana. If the two were incompati- 
ble, his private interests suffered, not his public duties. It 
was an easy device to borrow money on so ample a security. 
Newer machinery, better seasons, must bring gi-eat returns. 
He never exacted his salary. On the contrary, out of his owti 
resources he nourished the struggling churches over which he 
was God's overseer. Given to hospitality, his door was open 
to waj'farers of all degrees. 

All that was possible of his bui-dens his wife assumed. 
She rose up early in the morning, gave meat to her house- 
hold, and apportioned the tasks of her maidens. As to con- 
sidering fields, selling, not bmdng them, would have proved 
the superior wisdom of tlds latter-day mother in Israel. She 
witnessed the gTadual wasting away of their property with- 
out the possibility of prevention. 

Let us quote again from tlie faitliful "Mammy," who, like 
all her race, gloried in the past splendors of the house to 

JEt. 40] ''SLOW courage:' 173 

which she belonged. When their fortunes were fallen it 
soothed her pride to prove that it was by no fault of theirs, 
but by fatality. '' While old master was off on the Lord's 
Ijusiness, the plantatiou was run by young gentlemen. Ex- 
perimenting and lavishing did it. My old mistress saw it, — 
of coui'se she did, — but she couldn't tui-n overseer. The lit- 
tle while the bishop could be at home she made it pleasant 
for him. Nobody ever heard her say a word. She did all 
her fretting inside. The most I ever saw was when business 
was being talked on the piazza. After she had listened she 
would come into her own room and sit placid, and then give 
a long sigh. We were both thinking how the children's 
chances were slipping away." 

That this was a true interpretation of her mistress's thoughts 
is proven by this extract from a letter to one of her married 
daughters, written in those dark days following the war : " I 
have grown older within these few months since I left you 
than for years before. Sometimes I think it is because I real- 
ize more fully than ever that if I had done my duty you 
would all have been better off in a pecuniary point of \\evf. 
I am therefore responsible for all the evil consequences re- 
sulting from the poverty of my children, for I have not the 
consolation of thinking that I acted for the best. I felt that 
I was doing wrong at the time, and I have never felt other- 

" I must not dwell mournfully upon the past, or recall too 
often poor John Randolph and the card on which he had 
written 'Remorse!' (unavailiug regret)." 

Like all powerful men, the bishop was full of hopefulness 
He had never known any circumstances with which he was 
imable to cope. If matters went Avrong, as soon as he turned 
his attention to them he would right them. Born to fortune, 
strong and self-reliant, he was naturally proof against the 
fears and augm-ies which oppressed his wife. No doubt, too, 
his optimism influenced her, and thus action was deferred 
until too late. 

The same close observer already cited bears witness to 
the " slow courage " with which her mistress acted her part. 


" Nothing: living was neglected. She had to be satisfied about 
everybody and everji;hing down to the very dogs about the 
place." The life of the mistress in those patriarchal days 
was not one of ease. As soon as the brealvfast was over and 
the day's supplies distributed, the many guests of the house 
were left for a while to their own devices while she made 
the rounds of the quarters, — that is, the village containing 
the cabins of the field negroes. The sick were visited, and the 
proper food and medicine for them were set apart. Then the 
nurse-house, where the little children were cared for by the 
elder women, was inspected. Daily those wlio could walk 
were brought out for exercise as far as the back door of the 
" big house," as they termed the master's residence, and there 
the mistress gave each a biscuit, and sometimes with it a word 
of kindly admonition. Then she bestowed a general super- 
intendence upon the room where the regular seamstresses 
and the delicate women cut out and made the clothing which 
was always prepared in advance for plantation use. Later in 
the morning Mrs. Polk went into the school-room, where her 
children were at woi'k under their governess. With swift 
fingers she plied her knitting-needles while she sat listening 
to the insti'uction given them. Often a quick, pungent re- 
mark from her added something never to be forgotten to the 
day's quota of knowledge. She kept up a voluminous coitc- 
spondenee, which would have overtaxed a less systematic 
woman. She had no patience with those who find in their 
pleasant engagements a pretext for neglecting the small, 
sweet courtesies of life. The young people about her who 
were inclined to defer paying visits and replying to letters 
knew they would hear her rebuke, " What ! you have not 
leisure or wisdom to make and to keep friends ?" Her after- 
noons were given up to receiving and making visits, always 
a heavy demand upon one's time in a country neighborhood. 
Brought up in the good old idea that no moment must be 
unoccupied, Mrs. Polk became very skillful in aU arts of the 
needle, at least those which could be carried on mechanically, 
with little demand upon the eyesight. The last note from her 
to a kind neighbor, written when she was ''such an one as 


Paul the aged," was valued enough to be presei-ved, and it 
marks the only lunit to her industry : 

" Mlf clear Mrs. S : I regret that I could not return the 

httle squares at an earlier day, and I hope that it will occa- 
sion Mrs. C no inconvenience. Nothing would have given 

me greater pleasure in former days than to copy them, but, 
alas ! ' those that look out of the windows are darkened,' and 
such employments are forbidden. With regards to the ladies, 
behave me, yom-s truly, F. A. Polk." 

She was an insatiable reader, and required of herself and of 
all around her that they should keep well up with the litera- 
ture of the day. An open book lay ever on her work-table, 
and if conversation degenerated into gossip, a swift reminder 
would come that it was there ready for use. Friend after 
friend, child after child would take it up and read aloud to 
her. Racy commentaries repaid them richly. She was a 
woman who thought, and, having the courage of her convic- 
tions when she reached them, she enunciated them in pithy 
phrases, not molded on the common plan, nor easily for- 
gotten. But the responsibilities and anxieties, more than the 
labors of such days, gradually told upon her health and spirits. 
She grew thinner and paler. The expression of her face was 
one of subdued sadness. In another of her letters to a mar- 
ried daughter she admits : " Your father used sometimes to 
get out of patience with me for my fondness for Bums's ' Man 
was made to mourn,' and 'I weary am I know, and the 
weary long for rest ' ; but one does get so weary when not 

The beginning of sorrows came in 1849, when cholera 
swept over the plantatioD, causing the death of over one 
hundred of the negroes. Of this visitation the bishop 
wrote to Mrs. Ra^^lor briefly as follows, characteristically 
forgetting to mention that he himself had had a danger- 
ous attack of the disease : 

17(3 CHOLERA. [1849 

You have lieard, I presume, througli your sister's letters, of 
our late trouble and sickness. Durinf;- tlie presence of the 
disease we were absolutely so occujiied as hartUy to have a 
moment for anything but attention to the sick and dying, so 
could do nothing in the way of advising our friends of our 
condition. Such a visitation must be seen in order to be 
realized. Of all the population on ray place, white and black, 
amounting to over four hundred souls, I suppose there were 
not more than, say, fifty who did not have the disease. We 
lost one hundred and six, among them some of our best 
people. You will regret to hear that our old friend, Jeff, was 
of the number. He died as a Christian would desire to die, 
at his post. He was of gi'eat service as a nurse, and was most 

In her notes Mrs. Polk writes somewhat more fully of 
the cholera and its consequences, but omits mention of 
her own part in the ordeal; but fortunately we. know 
that during this terrible scourge she devoted every mo- 
ment during the day, unless needed absolutely by her 
own sick children, to their wants. For five long weeks 
she took her place at the hospital every morning directly 
after breakfast, noi* did she leave until late in the even- 
ing, sj^ending her time in going from bedside to bedside 
trying to soothe and comfort the sick and dying : whilst 
the bishop went from house to house, encouraging and 
brightening by his presence ; always near tlie dying, 
praying fervently for the departing spirit ; neither mas- 
ter nor mistress ever taking but a few short hours' rest 
at a time during those fearful weeks of suffering and 
death. Mrs. Polk in her notes says : 

The cholera appeared in our neighborhood in the winter 
of 1848-49. Great pains were taken by my husband to pre- 
serve the health of the negroes by clothing them in flannel and 
liaving their quarters imder extraordinaiy police and sanitary 
regulations. He made a vijsitation on the Mississippi River 

^t. 43] "/ CAA DIE IN FEACE:' 111 

below New Orleans, and returned to tlie city for the pui-pose 
of holding the spring confirmation services in the churches 
there, and to preside over the annual diocesan convention. 
One evening he called upon Mr. James Robb, who sent for his 
trunk and insisted that the bishop slioiild remain with him 
during his visit to the city. It was fortunate that he con- 
sented to do so, as he was taken ill with the cholera dm-ing 
the night, and probably owed his life to the devotion of Mr. 
James Robb, who watched over him with unwearied attention, 
seemed forewarned of everj^ want, and enforced in person the 
order of the physician for complete quiet to the patient, by 
waiting in an anteroom to receive all visitors. Before the 
bishop recovered from this attack, the cholera appeared in 
our place. The first cases were on the 11th day of May, 1849. 
In a few hours five deaths occurred. The best medical skill 
was obtained ; but medicine and attention seemed powerless. 
In five weeks seventy-six souls were hm-ried into eternity ; 
thirty other persons were so enfeebled and prostrated that they 
all died within three weeks. Some of the bishop's family were 
also ill of the disease, and barely escaped with their lives. At 
one period of the epidemic, of the three hundred and ninety- 
six negroes on the place, there were not enough well to take 
care of the sick. 

As soon as the bishop was able, — indeed, at a risk of a 
relapse, — he was at the bedside of the sick and dying, to 
nurse, to comfort, and to cheer. The last case of the cholera 
occurred on the 7th of June, when a very fine servant named 
Wright, by trade a blacksmith, was attacked. His master had 
been reading and praying with him. Wright raised his head, 
and said, '' Master, lift me up." '' I am afraid to, Wright," 
the 1)ishop replied ; *' the doctors say it may be fatal." " I am 
dying now, master; lift me up." The bishop raised him. 
when Wright suddenly threw his arms around his master's 
neck, and exclaimed, " Now, master, I can die in peace. I do 
love you so I have often wanted to hug you, and now let me 
die Avith my head on your breast and you praying for me.'' 
His wish was complied with, and soon he was at rest. 

The crop was, of course, not worked, as there were no hands 


able for weeks to be in the field. Instecad of the usual com 
crop being made, com had to be bought fi'om the first of 
August, and the cane was greatly injured for want of work. 
The crop did not pay the expenses, which tliis year exceeded 
$50,000. The debt was not, of course, reduced. It had been 
our hope that the crop would have paid it entirely, or at least 
reduced it to within a few thousand dollars. But it was God's 
doing. The bishop's health was so broken that he went North 
with our son, and was absent some two mouths, the rest of 
our family remaining on the Bayou. 

The aflQiction of 1849 was followed by another heavy 
loss in 1850, of which Mrs. Polk has given the following 
account : 

In May of this year (1850) the Diocesan Convention met at 
Thibodeaux. The business over, the bishop invited the mem- 
bers to dine at his house. While at dinner, one of those dread- 
ful tornadoes, so common in the South and West at this sea- 
son, took place. The glass in the windows, even the dishes 
on the table, were broken by enormous hailstones ; the floor 
was covered with them. The sugar-house, valued at $75,000, 
was destroyed. The stables of the plantation and several 
negro-cabins shared a like fate. In a moment the labor of 
years was destroyed, the crops ruined, and injuries to the 
amount of $100,000 inflicted upon us. This was God's work. 
The bishop bore it with his usual cheerful submission. He 
regi-etted, in view of his losses by the cholera of the year be- 
fore, and of the present calamity, of which the body of the 
convention were eyewitnesses, that no provision had been 
made by the diocese for his support j but he said nothing to 
any member on the subject. 

A gentleman Avho at that time lived on an adjoining 
plantation, and who had been invited, with his wife, to 
meet the members of the Diocesan Convention at the 
dinner to whieh Mrs. Polk refers, thns describes the 
storm which wroiiirht such havoc : 

j:ingroei/ea, oy nmnjarioin,. 



The clouds were so threatening we did not venture out ; the 
vehicle and horses were taken back to shelter. It was well 
we remained. Soon we heard the sound of an approaching 
storm, which struck us with consternation. It was upon us in 
a moment. It seemed as if the house — a very strong one, 
built flat as if for such an encounter — would be leveled to 
the ground. Then came the hail, a frightful shower of it, a 
tempest of huge missiles that lasted perhaps fifteen minutes, 
although it seemed an age. The outer shutters were thrown 
open by its violence, every exposed pane of glass in the win- 
dows was broken, the floors were covered with hail, and we 
were compelled, for very fear of life, to keep out of the way 
of the shower of stones which went through and through the 
house. It was a scene of terror not to be shaken off the 
memory in a lifetime. It should be mentioned, as character- 
istic of the thoughtf ulness of the family at Leighton, that 
despite the dismay, the destruction, the attention due numer- 
ous guests, and the general confusion of the moment, — within 
twenty minutes after the storm .had spent its wrath upon its, 
a messenger rode to oui* door from that plantation to inquire 
how we had fared in the perils through which we had just 

The effect of tlie storm on the bishop's fortunes, and 
the complete disaster which ensued, are thus described 
by Mrs. Polk : 

The bishop went this fall (1850) to the General Convention, 
which met at Cincinnati. The winter was passed, as usual, in 
visiting portions of the diocese. Owing to the lateness of the 
season, when the work of rebuilding began, the sugar-house 
was not completed in time. Meanwhile the frost, which was 
unusually early, had seriously injured the cane, so that not 
over a third of an average crop was made. To all this the 
bishop only said: "I have done all I could. I must leave the 
future in God's hands. If he sends this trouble, it is his 
wiU. ' Let him do what seemetli to him good.' ' Though he 
slay me, yet will I trust in him.' " 

ISO j.Kianrux sacuifki:!). \\^:a 

In tlio spriu<? of 1851 , tlu- l)isli<)p, \\m\vv tlic advice of a frifiul, 
(leterniined to disci largv his iiidebteduoss in Tennessee by 
raising money on his property, and placed the funds in the 
hands of a broker to satisfy an obligation held by the Bank 
of Tennessee. A few days after, the broker stopped pajonent, 
having, in the inter\-al, appropriated this trust money to his 
own use. Under a statute of Louisiana this was a grave 
penal offense, and the offender was sul)ject to be imprisoned 
in the penitentiary. The l)ishop would not prosecute him, as 
he considered there was no intention to defraud. This was 
the finishing stroke to our fortune. 

AVliile the bishop's private fortunes were falling into 
decay, his episcopal woi-k was prospering. • In 1842 he 
liad found but two church buildings and five clergymen 
in the diocese of Loiiisiana; at the Diocesan Conven- 
tion of 1853 twenty-one parishes were represented, and 
twenty-five clergymen took i)art in the proceedings. In 
the autumn of that year a third misfortune befell him. 
The yellow fever, Avliich had become epidemic in New 
Orleans, extended its ravages to the iuterior and along 
the banks of Bayou La Fourclie. The mortality was very 
great. The bishop liiuisclf was absent in attendance at 
the General Convention when he received information 
that two of liis children and several of his negroes had 
been attacked, and. obtaining leave of alisence from the 
House of Bislio])s. he instantly rctunuMl home. Hap- 
l)ily an early frost occurrc(l. tlic disease abated, and he 
passed the winter in liis usual xisitatious. In the s))i"iug 
of 18.")4 lu' liad fully satisfied himself tliat the reve- 
nues of his plantation would be insufficient to discharge 
the heavy debts wliieh bad aeciniiulated agahist him. 
Accordingly he considered it liis duty to tender the prop- 
erty to his creditors, and, after a series of negotiations, 
Leighton passed fi-om his possession. Oidy a fraction 


of Mrs. Polk's property remained. Cotton lands were 
purchased in Bolivar County, Mississippi, and the com- 
paratively few servants were transferred to that place. 
In the autumn of 1854 yellow fever again appeared on 
Bayou La Fourche, and many neighbors of the bishop 
were among its victims. He was unremitting in his 
devotion to the sick and dying, and was himself taken 
with the fever. Upon his recovery he prepared to leave 
Leighton for New Orleans, where he had resolved to 
make his future home. 

The diocese was not wholly unmindful of its obliga- 
tions to its chief pastor. For tliu'teen years he had 
served it virtually without compensation, but in 1853 an 
effort was made to raise an endowment of $50,000 for 
his support, and his salary as bishop was settled at 
$4000 per annum. On his removal to New Orleans he 
accepted the rectorship of Trinity Church, with the 
understanding that the work of the parish, during his 
necessary absences on ejjiscopal visitations, should be 
carried on by a competent assistant. Thus, for the first 
time in his life. Bishop Polk was permanently settled in 
a great city, and from subsequent experience it might 
safely be concluded that he ought always to have lived 
there. From the moment of his settlement in New 
Orleans his influence was universally recognized. The 
position of the Church was strengthened. Its mission- 
ary energies were multiplied. Nothing but time seemed 
to be wanting for an almost unprecedented growth of 
the work under his charge. 

Through all liis losses — and all the more perhaps be- 
cause he saw his private fortune vanishing away — his 
thoughts and cares had gone out to the great work for 
the Church and world which the very loss of his fortune 
made him free to undei-take. It was durinu' those dis- 


astrous years that he began to entertain the project of 
establishing a great university in the southern States. 
How this idea grew in him until it reached the ultimate 
form Avith which his name will always be connected, has 
been thus. described by Mrs. Polk : 

I remember few incidents of the winter of 1849-50 ex- 
cept tliat I now, for the first time, heard my husband speak 
of his wish to estabUsh a university which should enlist the 
sympathy of all the States. Some time before he went to 
Louisiana, that State had appropriated $1,500,000 for the es- 
.tablishment of tlu-ee colleges, — one at Jackson, one at Opelou- 
sas, and one in the parish of St. James. This sum had been 
spent mainly in the buildings. The schools, after a brief 
struggle, had ceased to exist, and the school buildings had 
been disposed of, — the Jackson institution to the Methodists, 
the Opelousas to the Romanists; that in St. James was offered 
to my husband for $50,000. At one time he thought of pur- 
chasing it for the diocese, but, on making himself more fa- 
miliar with the wishes of the people, he ascertained that there 
was a general desire to have the children spend the j-ears of 
their college life in a colder climate. He then thought of 
purchasing the coUege building and groimds in St. James out 
of his private means, and removing there ; but the heavy 
losses entaUed by the cholera A-isitation prevented more than 
the thought. Soon afterward these college buildings were 
burned. But the plan of a gi-eat imiversity was constantly in 
his thoughts ; he frequently spoke of it to me, and began to 
collect materials to enable him to brmg the project before the 

In the spring of 1852 he began to collect information rela- 
tive to the educational system of England, France, and 
Prussia, and to consult mth some of his friends on the feasi- 
bdity of founding a University of the South. Two months 
were spent wdth me at the North, my health having become 
very bad. We returned in the fall. The winter was passed 
as usual, the bisho]) visiting various parts of the diocese, and 
the family and myself remaining on the plantation. 


Of Bishop Polk's pastoral and episcopal character, the 
following account has been furnished, at the request of 
the writer, in a letter from the Rev. Dr. Fulton. Speak- 
ing of his first meeting with Bishop Polk, he says : 

On the 22d day of May, 1857, 1 an-ived in New Orleans f or 
examination for orders, and was taken to the bishop's house 
by the Eev. Dr. Charles Goodrich, president of the Standing 
Committee. Presently we heard a quick, firm step in tlie hall, 
and the bishop entered. One glance revealed the man; his 
first address, the gentleman; his penetrating, sympathetic 
look, the friend and father. He was then over fifty years of 
age, but his clear complexion, his keen, bright eye, and his 
elastic step made him appear not more than forty-six or forty- 
eight. Standing over six feet in height, his form was cast 
in the ideal mold of a soldier. His broad shoulders, his lean 
flank, his erect carriage, and his decidedly military bearing pre- 
pared one for the clear, distinct voice, which never struck one 
as imperious, but had always a certain tone of command. It 
was a voice to make itself heard amid the din of battle, and 
yet by the bedside of the sick and dying it was gentle as a 
woman's. As he had a pressing engagement, our first inter- 
view was brief ; but in those few minutes he contrived, with- 
out any appearance of haste, to ask every question and pay 
every attention that kindness or coixrtesy could suggest, and 
also to make the necessary arrangements for my examination 
and ordination. At the same time I was in some way con- 
scious that an eye accustomed to observe, and gifted with the 
insight of sympathy, had tnken a quick and comprehensive 
observation of me. I did not at all feel that I had been 
scrutinized; I did feel that I was understood. 

In two days I was ordained deacon in Trinity Church, of 
which the bishop was at that time rector. In his robes ho 
appeared the ideal of a bishop ; he was still the soldier, but 
the calm, strong soldier of Christ. His air of command 
never left him, but it was the command of one who felt that 
he himself was " under authority," and in a Father's house. 
Through all his dignity, the people who looked upon him saw 


that he was one ol' them and one witli tbeni ; and this im- 
pression was aided, perhaps, bj' two slig-ht inaccuracies of 
pronunciation,— "toh" he said for to, and "goodniss" for 
fjoodncs^. With tliese excepti(ms his j)n)nuneiatioTi was per- 
fect and his enunciation remarkably distinct. His rendering 
of the service was exceedingly impressive, and, though wholly 
unstudied, it was intelligent, reverent, and simple. One did 
not think of the reader, but of the lesson read. He was not 
an adept in matters of ritual, and sometimes confused the 
rubrics, not from carelessness or contempt, but rather from 
preoccupation with weightier matters. 

The bishop considered that true pastoral influence depended 
mainly on personal character and on the power of personal 
sympathy. He was accustomed to dwell on these as incom- 
parably more necessary than eloquence in the i)ulpit or any 
particular views in theology. "Above all things," he would 
say, *' gain your people's confidence, and see that you deserve 
it. Live the gospel, and you will preach the gospel." 

He greatly disliked puritanical professions of religion, and 
insisted upon conduct as tlie criterion of piety in a way that 
\vt)uld have satisfied Thomas Ai'nold. Once, when speaking 
on this subject, I ventured to suggest tliat a little more of 
that doctrine would make certain evangelical theories a good 
deal less objectionable. " The one follows the other," he re- 
jjlied. " Faith is a charger that carries a man into battle, but 
lie must fight when he gets there, and then Faith will bear 
him tlirough the fight." 

He laid the greatest possible stress on the necessity of pre- 
serving and developing one's own individual character, in- 
stead of striving to conform to some other type which one 
may chance to admire. '' Thei-e is no pattern of human life 
worth following." lie said, " but that of Christ himself. Take 
no other for your model. If you do, you may ratlier acquire 
its defects than its excellences. Only in him will you find 
nothing to avoid ; only in him will you find all that is needed 
to coiTect and complete your own life." 

Once, when he had been reproving me for something or 
other, I well remember the half-playful way in which he 


closed the conversation. " I would not li;ivo you," he said, 
"be anybody but yourself." If the good Lord had not some 
use for you in the world, you would not be here ; and if he 
had wanted you to be any other sort of man, you would 
have been a man of that sort, and not the man you are. 
Your part is to consider how the Lord Jesus Christ would 
wish a character like yours to be developed and restrained. 
He would not wish you to be less earnest or less enthusiastic, 
for earnest enthusiasm is a great power; but he might tell 
you that it needs to be directed with prudence and gravity. 
He would not wish you to be less joyous, but he would surely 
bid you guard against levity. In short, my young friend, 
it is good for a man to know what he can't be. You can't — 
and if you could, you ought not to — be anybody but your- 
self. Only try to be your best self, your ideal self. Keep 
yourself well in hand. When a man gives the rein to his own 
peculiarities of character, he is sure to miss the purpose of his 
life, and to become a caricature of the man God meant him 
to be." 

In his pastoral visiting the bishop was exceedingly syste- 
matic. When beginning a round of visits he would make 
a list of all the families in a particidar district, arrange them 
in a certain order, and go through the list. Next day he 
would take an adjacent district, go through that, and so on 
until he had seen every family in the parish. His method 
in visiting was perfect. It was astonishing to see how quickly 
he got through ; and yet, brief as his visits were, they were 
most effective. Before he entered a house, he had always 
thought of every person connected with the family ; and then, 
without any forced turn of the conversation, he woiild make 
it known that he had thought of all. '' Make it a habit," he 
said to m?, *' to think of your people. Hear them on your 
heart, and let them know that you do so. Be sincerely in- 
terested in all that concerns them, and let them feel that you 
are interested. That is the secret of pastoral influence." In 
dealing with individuals he insisted on the gi-eatest prudence. 
"There is notliing so good." he said, "as a word in season; 
but there are few thhigs iiiove likelv to do harm than good 


words out of season. Learn to wait for your cliance. The 
man wlio seems callous to-day may be sensitive to your 
lightest touch to-morrow, unless in the meanwhile you have 
lepelled him. J\Iake it a point to leave no man further off 
from spiritual things than he was when you met him ; and 
when men are moved, be content to carry them as far as 
they will go freely. One step leads to another, unless you 
fail to use your opportunity." 

In parochial administration his method was summed up 
in a few maxims such as these: "There is a great deal of 
fine art in letting people alone." "It may cost you more 
labor to get your people to do a thing than to do it yourself, 
but it will be worth more when it is done." " Let your work- 
ing-people work in their own way. Don't be a martinet. 
People who work have a right to choose their own way of 
working, and the way they like will be the easiest for them." 
"Make yourself felt rather than seen in your people's work. 
Always give them the credit for what is done; never take 
it to yourself." 

There was nothing in which the bishop excelled more, as a 
pastor and as a bishop, than in the power of rebuke. "Take 
care," said a clergj'man to me shortly after I went to New 
Orleans, "that the bishop does not have to take you in hand. 
If he does, he will make you ache in every bone of your spirit- 
ual liody. EjL-perto erede. But when yoii feel sorest, you will 
b(; almost angry that you cannot be angi'v at what he has said 
to you." I had more than once sufficient opportunity to verify 
that saying. More than once the bishop did "take me in 
hand," and sore enough he made me feel; but he never made 
me angry nor failed to send me away with a deeper reverence 
for himself and with a deeper longing for his ajiprobation. 
Even now, after so many years, I cannot recall tliose inter- 
views without a vivid recollection of my utter helplessness in 
the bishop's hands. Later on I learned that others had had 
the same experience ; but the bishop seemed always to have 
something particularly commendatory to say of every person 
whom he had had occasion to fault, and it was only through 
the person himself that one could learn anything about it. 

^Et. 48] AN ANONYMOUS LETTEli. 187 

Occasionally, however, the story would get out in some amus- 
ing way. In the diocese there was a very excellent and labo- 
rious clergyman, really a fine fellow, but of a high-strung, 
nervous temperament, aud a desperate stickler for rubrical 
observances and ritual jDropriety. I have said that in these 
things the bishop sometimes made mistakes ; and at one of our 
conventions I must confess that the opening services were 
anything rather than in conformity with the order of the 
" Directorium Anglicanum." Some weeks afterward there ap- 
peared in the columns of a church newspaper a communication 
signed '*X," giving an indignant and not very complimentary 
account of the rubrical and ritual irregularities of the service. 
The bishop was sorely displeased, and spoke to me about it. 
" Surely," I said, " you do not suspect me of writing the 
letter ? " "No, sir," he rephed ; " you are not the sort of bird 
that fouls its own nest ; but I thought you might know the 
author of it." ' ' And if I did, bishop ? " "If you did, sir," he 
rejoined, "I do not love talebearers; but I shall find him out, 
sir; I shall find him out." "Well, bishop, I have no more 
idea than you have of the author of that communication; 
but I should like to know how you expect to find him out." 
" From himself, sir, of course ; and very soon, depend upon it." 
Very soon he did find out. The writer, shortly afterward, 
was in the bishop's study, and the bishop opened the subject 
by observing that considerable interest had been taken in the 
question of the authorship of the letter. The visitor felt that 
the question was addressed to himself, and naively betrayed 
himself by saying that he supposed that the pseudonym was 
an indicati(m that the writer did not wish to be known. " I 
should think so," said the bishop ; "and therefore I infer that 

the author is not known to you, Mr. V This was a home 

thrust, and the poor fellow stammered out that he certainly 
did know the author, but that he was not prepared to give 
any further information on the subject at that time. "And I 
have asked none," said the bishop. Thereupon the unfortu- 
nate man was thoroughly "taken in hand." The meanness 
and cowardice of an anonymous attack was commented upon in 
the blandest way ; the additional wrong of an assault upon a 

188 DKVOTIOX TO JJlTY. [1834 

bishop, whose office forbade a reply, was duly observed ; and 
tlie impropriety of a clergyman, who by virtue of his office is 
an advisor of his Ijishop, wnsliing diocesan dirty linen abroad 
in the face of the world, was severely rebuked. The poor 
fellow was spiritually broken on the wheel for a long half- 
liour. He had not intended to do any of those dreadful 
things, and yet, as the bishop went on, he seemed to have 
been guilty of all of them. He left the house in a wretched 
condition. Befor-e he had gone far he was taken with a 
nervous chill, and reached the house where he was staying 
Avith a fever on him. A few hours later his host went to his 
room, but paused on the tlu-eshold, hearing him, as he sup- 
X)osed, engaged in prayer. It was not prayer, however, as he 
soon found, but the groaning utterances of mental disti'ess. 
" Oh, that communication signed X! " he moaned. " This is 
certainly a judgment upon me for writing that comnumication. 
If the good Lord will only forgive me for writing it, I'll never 
be X anymore !" And he never was. He was a true Chris- 
tian gentleman, and loved his bishop well, though he did abhor 
and resent a Aiolation of the rubrics. 

A case of fever, even such as this, recalls tlic frightful 
scourge of yellow fever under which man\- southern cities 
and towns are suffering while I write these lines. I was never 
with the bishop in an epidemic, but I have often heard him 
speak of his experiences. After he had made his residence in 
New Orleans, it was a matter of course that he should stand 
by his people in the hour of danger and distress, without re- 
gard to his own safety. During an epidemic he might have 
gone on A-isitations elsewhere ; but if he had done so, he 
would not have been Leonidas Polk. So he remained steadily 
at his post of duty, as brave men of every Christian name liave 
always done, until he was relieved from work l>y an attack of 
the disease. 

The marvelous power of lo\nng rebuke of wliieh Dr. 
Fulton speaks in the foregoing letter is still further illus- 
trated by an anecdote which is furnished by another 
clergyman : 


Bishop Polk was a man of very decided opinions, and, 
though cautious perhaps in forming them, never hesitated, 
wlien there was occasion, to give them expression. I have 
always regarded him as a conservative churchman. He en- 
tertained high ideas of church authority. I think, too, he 
was very tenacious of episcopal prerogative, and would never 
allow the slightest infringement upon what he deemed its 
proper claims. I have known him in council interrupt de- 
bate, when he thought the sentiments of the speaker trenched 
upon the episcopal offlce. His rights Avcre asserted with 
firmness, but with moderation, nor was he ever disposed to 
interfere Avitli the just liberties of his clergy. He sympa- 
thized in their struggles, listened with interest to the story 
of their trials, aud gave them counsel as a brother ; nor was 
there any duty to which he seemed to turn with greater re- 
luctance than that of administering the discipline of the 
church. He was slow to credit rumors to the prejudice of 
his brethren, and, even when offenses could not be denied, 
he seemed to go in search of extenuating circumstances, as 
one trying to find something to justify forbearance or mod- 
eration in discipline. 

On one occasion very serious offenses were charged against 
a certain presbyter of the diocese. The committee appointed 
under the canon to investigate the rumors reported their 
opinion that sufficient ground existed to warrant present- 
ment for trial before an ecclesiastical court. In order, how- 
ever, to avoid the scandal of such a proceeding, the offender 
was willing to submit himself without reserve to the disci- 
pline of the bishop. I can never forget the solemnity with 
which the judgment was pronounced. The presbyter was 
summoned to appear before the bishop in one of the 
churches in New Orleans. Some eight or ten of the clergy 
were present in the chancel. The bishop was seated in his 
chair, clothed with his robes of office, the other clergy with 
theirs. Outside the chancel rail, before the altar, stood the 
penitent offender. None others were permitted within the 
church. The stillness of the room seemed to add impres- 
siveness to the scene. A few collects were offered, after 

lUO SYMPAlllY FOR I HE Eliltl^G. [1854 

wliicli the bishop from liis place addressed the guilty pres- 
byter, briefly recapitulating his offenses and expressing; 
their culpability. He read the judgment from a manuscript 
which was spread before him. His manner was very grave, 
his voice low, sometimes wavering with emotion, yet per- 
fectly distinct. It was evident that he was much moved. 
Every clergyman present felt the unusual solemnity of the 
occasion. The offending presbyter covered his face, and 
could not conceal his anguish. The judgment ha\ing been 
pronounced, we all knelt once more in prayer, after which 
the bishop rose, and extended his hand to the man whom 
he had just suspended from ecclesiastical office, who grasped 
it with tears in his eyes ; the clergA^ followed the example of 
their bishop, and the offender was made to feel that among 
his peers, and in the heart of his ecclesiastical superior, there 
was no lack of sympathy for the infirmities of an en-ing 

But we must leave these personal reminiscences. 
While caring for his parish, which was one of the largest 
in the diocese, and administering the affairs of a rapidly 
growing diocese, Bishop Polk believed that the time had 
come for him to undertake the work of founding a great 
university for the southern States, and, frcmi the com- 
manding position which he now lield in New Orleans, he 
set about that work with eliaracteristic energy. ^ 

1 At the burning of Bishop Polk's house in 18C1 all the letters which 
he had -written Jlrs. Polk since their marriage were destroyed. The loss 
has been greatly felt in the preparation of this and the preceding chap- 
ter as the letters contained many allusions to persons and incidents 
connected with Bishop Polk's life in the Southwest, particularly in the 
Republic of Texas. The official record of his life during this period 
appears in the files of the '• Spirit of Missions," in the proceedings of 
the conventions of the dioceses of Louisiana, and in the " History of tlie 
Dioceses of Louisiana," by the Rev. Herman E. Duncan. 


1854 TO 1861. 

Inception of the idea.— Nobility of the vmiversity system.— Early Amer- 
ican literature.— Southern educational deficiencies.- Thoroughness of 
Bishop Polk's plans.— Dangers of unrestricted imniigi'ation. — Views 
on extension of slavery.— The Kansas question.— The Church in the 
South.— Expected benefits to the negro race. — Other southern univer- 
sities. — Magnificence of the scheme. — Family influences for the stu- 
dents. — Climatic advantages. — Endowment. — Letter to the southern 
bishops. — Bishop Elliott's cooperation. — The southern Church enlisted 
in the cause.— First meeting of the trustees.— To cement a national 
feeling through the Church.— Location of the University.— Munificent 
gifts. — Charter of the institution. — Bishop Hopkins's estimate. — Active 
work.— Public spu-it and liberality.— The corner-stone laid.— Advance 
in American education.— Present status.— Appendix : Constitution of 
the University ; Statutes. 

It has been erroneously supposed that Bishop Polk's 
project of establishing: a great univer.sity for the south- 
ern States was formed but a short time before he pro- 
posed it to the Church and the world. He himself said 
tlicit the first distinct idea of it came to him when he 
was abroad in 1831 ; but it is probable that its elements 
had been previously gathering- in his mind. Even be- 
fore he began to study for holy orders he had felt the 
disadvantage of the exclusively scientific education ho 
had received at West Point. He did not undervalue the 
technical instructions of the Military Academy. Indeed, 
if he had been obliged to choose between the curriculum 
of the Academy and the u.-;ual course of American col- 


192 VIEW 6 OX ElJl'L'ATlOX. [1S54 

leges as it was forty or even fifty years ago, lie Avould, 
witliout liesitation, liave chosen tlie former; for in most 
colleges of that time literary studies were pursued to the 
neglect, and almost to the exclusion, of the sciences. 
Nevertheless he felt that the course of the Military Acad- 
emy would be improved, and that its scientific purpose 
would not he marred, if the cadets had more of the 
classical and literary instruction which is a part of the 
usual i)reparation for other professions. He fully recog- 
nized the necessity of giving a special direction to the 
course of study to be pursued by men intended for a 
])articular 2)rofession ; but lie was firm in the conviction 
that the professional man ought always to have a liberal 
education,^ and he thought that every gentleman ought 
to have at least so much acquaintance with every branch 
of human knowledge as to be capable of intelligent sym- 
pathy with the pursuits and thoughts of other educated 
men of any profession. He observed, too, that the isola- 
tion of technical schools, whether military, medical, legal, 
or theological, each by itself, tends to foster a narrow 
sj^irit of professional conceit ^vhich would be less likely 
to exist if the professors and stiulents of the different 
faculties were in daily contact with each otlier. When 
he went abroad, he saw in the gi'cat English and Con- 
tinental universities a fairly adequate appi-oximation to 
the vague ideal he had already conceived. But he saw 
more than that ; for he saw that great universities edu- 
cate not merely individual men, but nations ; and that 
they inspire the noblest impulses of national acti\aty. 
ti'easuring the riches of the past, stimulating and inform- 
ing the energies of the present, and in the best sense 
laying the foundations of the future. As an American 

1 The reasons be gave his father for lii.s wish to accept the profes- 
sorship at Amherst College emphasize this idea strongly. 


he was mortified — perhaps alarmed — to think that in 
the whole of the United States there was not (in 1831) 
one single university worthy of the name. With a few 
exceptions, American literature was still barren, or at 
least feeble and imitative, without force and without 
originality. Those were days in the world when was 
scornfully asked, " Who reads American l)ooks ? " Amer- 
icans themselves read few American books, for there 
were few American books to read. American publica- 
tions for the most part were pirated reprints of foreign 
works ; and American periodical literature, for more 
than a quarter of a century afterward, consisted largely 
of the same sort of material. Comparing one jiart of his 
country with another, he saw that, poor as the North 
was in literature and institutions of learning, the South 
was poorer still. Most of the sons of men of means 
were sent to northern colleges to be educated ; and, 
with the exception of fugitive productions in the news- 
papers, there were no indications of the appearance of a 
southern literature. As the son of a soldier of the Rev- 
olution, it was a pride to him to think of the preponder- 
ating influence which had been exercised by southern 
men in field and coTincil throughout the Revolutionary 
War and for half a century afterward ; l)ut as the years 
rolled on and the old generation passed away, the men 
of the second generation did not seem to him to be the 
equals of their predecessors. These considerations, not' 
long after his return from Europe, began to inspire him 
with a passionate desire to devote his energies to tiie 
founding ot a great American university somewhere in 
the southern States. Foi- mnuy years the state of liis 
h(\ilth aud the pressure of liis private and official duties 
kept him from it. While lie was wandering through his 
enormous missionary jurisdiction of the " Southwest," 


out of which six dioceses and two missionary jurisdic- 
tions have since been created, and afterward, when his 
own affairs were cruelly embarrassed, he had small 
chance of founding universities ; but as soon as he was 
relieved of these burdens and had made his home in a 
great city, he began to agitate the sul>ject of the uni- 
versity. He did it then because he thought the time 
had come, and not because he was suddenly attracted by 
the fascination of a grand and novel enterprise. When 
he laid his plans before such men as Bishops Elliott and 
Otey, than whom none worthier or wiser have adorned 
the American Episcopate, they were impressed, not so 
much by the grandeur of his project as l^y his states- 
man-like gi'asp of the whole subject, and the mature 
consideration which he had given to its most subordinate 
details. When the movement had been fairly inaugu- 
rated, and the board of tiaistees met to frame a code of 
"statutes" for the university, those who were present 
observed the masterly way in Avlnch he answered all 
questions and met all objections, until the discussions 
seemed to take the form of n simple conversation in 
whit'h the other members of the l)oard were assisting 
Polk and Elliott to reconsider and revise the phraseology 
of tlieir project. To those who liiow the facts, the notion 
that the magnificent sch(iine of the Uiiiversity of the 
South was hastily planned is merely preposterous. 

The notion that it was sectional, or in any way un- 
worthy of a sincere lover of his country, is equally 
untnie. In the work which he proposed he thought he 
saw a benefit to the whole country. Though he had not 
a particle of sympathy with llic proscriptive party of the 
"Know-nothings," he regarded the rapid increase of our 
population through the innnigration of foreigners as in- 
volvinsr serious dangers, which, to l)e averted, must be 


foreseen and wisely provided against. The growth of 
dense populations in niannfactimng towns he also re- 
garded with apprehensions which would certainly not 
have been lessened had he lived till now. In tunes of 
prosperity he thought that all would be well; but he 
apprehended that distress in commerce and manufac- 
tures would give rise to revolutionary disorders in a 
country where universal suffrage might put society at 
the mercy of demagogues. The danger, he thought, 
would first be felt at the East; the West, being an 
agricultural region like the South, would for many years 
be more conservative ; and the unity of the Mississippi 
Valley would be likely for all time to operate as a bond 
between the people of the Northwest and the people 
of the southern States. But it was to the South that 
he looked for the maintenance of a true conservatism, 
not only within its own borders, but throughout the 
country. He despised, heartily enough, a mere aristoc- 
racy of wealth, which might be almost as injurious to the 
true interests of the commonwealth as mob-law estab- 
lished under the name of universal suffrage ; but he held 
that an aristocratic element of some sort is necessary to 
the stability of society ; and in the institutions of the 
South he believed that such an element had been provi- 
dentially furnished. It was necessary, however, that the 
ruling classes of the South should be worthy of the place 
in the destinies of their country to which he believed 
that Providence had called them. 

In looking to the future he was misled neither by the 
facts nor by the sentiments of the present. He saw 
more clearly than the statesmen of his day that in the 
natural order of events the area of slaveholding States 
could not 1)e extended, but nnist be gradually diminished. 
Before many years he expected the boi'der States to 

lf)G THE FUTUIU': OF SLA V Eli Y. [is:.4 

become free States. In the phintatioii States alone he 
looked for pernumenco, ami tlu' extension of slave terri- 
tory beyond the eotton })elt he did not desire. While he 
thoroughly believed in the right of all citizens to occupy 
the Territories with property which was recognized as 
such by the Constitution of tli(>ir country, he believed 
that slave labor could not possibly be made available 
in the northwestern Territories for any length of time. 
Hence he regarded the Kansas struggle as a blunder on 
the part of the North, which could not long be troubled 
by the pressure of slavery in that region, and as a dou- 
ble l)lunder, economical and political, on the part of the 
South. For similar reasons he had no sympathy with 
those who desired the annexation of Cuba, holding that 
it would lessen the influence of the Soutli to a degree 
which no increase of territory and no temporaiy gain of 
votes in Congress could compensate. To fulfill its des- 
tiny, the South, as he coneeived, must be raised and sus- 
tained by intellectual and moral forces, not dragged 
down l)y the dead weight of an alien people ; and unless 
tlie dominant race at the South should ])e worthily fitted 
for their difficult position by education and l)y moral and 
religious culture, he clearly saw and apprehended the 
dangers of hereditary wealth in the midst of a subject 
race. It was not at all because he undeiTated the peo- 
ple of the South, but because he believed that God had 
called them to an excepticmally difficult and dangerous 
position, both toward the subject race and toward their 
country, that he magnified the necessity of inspiring 
their enthusiasm in favor of a grand and beneficent 
work of education. 

Clnn-chman as he was to his heart's core, he felt as 
painfully as any the dependence of the Soutli on other 
poi-tioiis (if the ('(inutrv for its sii|>ply rif clergy. It was 

.^t. 48] TllK SOUTIIEBN CHURCH. 197 

liis fixed conviction tliat every country ought to liave 
a native ministry; and to the South, with its peculiar 
type of ci\dlization, the necessity was particuhirly great. 
The majority' of the clergy at the South were either 
from the North or from other countries where the sys- 
tem of the South, as he conceived, w^as misunderstood ; 
and, however faithful they might be, they were never 
able to make full proof of their ministry until they had 
been in some sort naturalized as southern citizens. 
This alone was a disadvantage ; but as the antislavery 
agitation gathered strength, and as southern people 
came more and more to regard northern peoj^le as hos- 
tile to themselves and their institutions, the instructions 
of pastors on the plainest duties of master and servant 
were not readily received from men of northern birth. 
At the same time, and for the same reasons, northern 
clergymen w^ere reluctant to accept positions at the 
South. Hence it became, j^ear by year, more essential 
that the Chiu'ch in the South should have a native min- 
istry. That the rearing of such a ministry was one of 
the good works which the bishop expected to result 
from the university is evident. It is equally evident that 
he expected the Church of his love to be the largest 
gainer by it in every way ; and yet he regarded the func- 
tion of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in establish- 
ing the university, with the eye of a statesman rather 
than with that of a mere ecclesiastic. "After all," he 
said, '' the Church is the heart of Anglo-Saxon Christian- 
ity. The other denominations have retained more of 
the Christian heritage they have received fi'om her than 
they have ever rejected, and they are even now more in 
unity with her than they are with each other. We shall 
never win them back by any system of vulgar proselyt- 
ism ; but if we can win their hearts and command their 

198 TlIK ^EGIW PROBLEM. [1854 

respect by some gi-eat worlc which meets their approba- 
tion, they will rally rouud her more readily than they 
now cooperate witli each other. The university is such 
a work, and if the Church cannot do it, nobody can." 
Thus, wliile he undoubtedly expected great and lasting 
benefits to accrue to the Church from her control of the 
university, he looked for them in the exact proportion 
in which the Church should prove herself to be a general 
benefactor rather than a beneficiary. 

It will always be difficult for those who had no per- 
sonal acquaintance with the minds of conscientious slave- 
holders to understand the absolute fact that, from first 
to last, Bishop Polk expected the negi'o population to be, 
indirectly but really, the largest beneficiaries of the uni- 
versity. His consideration of slavery as an institution 
was entirely practical. That African slavery was in its 
origin a crime, and that the slave-trade was an atrocity, 
there could be no kind of doubt ; but for the origin of 
slavery he was no more responsible than for the tricks 
and frauds by which so many land titles were originally 
acquired from the aborigines of this continent. Before 
he was born, many thousands of negroes had been '' im- 
ported " under the sanction of the laws of England and 
America ; and the institution of American slaveiy was 
an inherited fact, in the creation of which he had had no 
concern. To return the slaves to Africa was impossible ; 
and if it had been possible, he now saw that it would be 
a cruelty. Besides, it was a fact patent to observation 
that in their state of servitude the negroes were steadily 
advancing in Christianity and civilization. They were 
no longer savages; they were docile, kindly, Christian 
people, who might in time become fit for freedom ; but 
they still seemed to be very insufficiently prepared for 
the state of liberty. The experiments in the way of 


individual emancipation which had been made had, not 
been encouraging ; and, as a class, the free-negro popu- 
lation, where it existed, gave no hopeful indication that 
a general emancipation of the slaves would or could be 
beneficial. To thoughtful southern men it was manifest 
that the existing order had done and was still doing — 
quietly and perhaps slowly, but surely — a beneficent 
work in the gradual elevation of the subject race ; but, on 
the other hand, it seemed to them to be not less evident 
that premature emancipation might be disastrous to both 
races, and that the steps by which emancipation might 
at last be wisely reached must be measured by genera- 
tions, not by years. Hence they held that the question 
of a general emancipation was not a practical question 
for their time. But for that very reason it was a matter 
of unspeakable importance that the ruling race of the 
South should realize the greatness of the trust which had 
been providentially committed to them in the care of an 
ignorant and helpless people, and that they should be 
intellectually and morally qualified to fulfill it ; and, con- 
sequently, however great the direct advantages of the 
university might be to the white race, its indirect bene- 
fit to the black race could not fail to be incomparably 

The colleges and other institutions of learning which 
were already in existence at the South had Bishop 
Polk's fullest sympathy and his most generous apprecia- 
tion. For the University of North Carolina at Chapel 
HiU he had a very high i-egard, and in the University of 
Mississippi he was much interested. But, at the best, 
the institutions of learning in the South, outside of Vir- 
ginia, were merely colleges ; some of them were little 
more than fau'ly good high-schools ; none of them were 
universities, even when they bore the name ; and that 


they did not meet the necessities of the people was ap- 
parent from the fact that the number of their students 
was always small, the greater number of southern stu- 
dents being sent to northern schools. The University 
of Virginia, it is true, stood high among the institutions 
of learning of the whole land ; but, with his views and 
expectations of the future, it was impossible for Bishop 
I*olk to regard any institution situated in the border 
States as the permanent seat of such a university as he 
believed to be necessary for the South. It is always to 
l)e remembered that he expected the gradual extinction 
of slaverj^ in the border States, and believed its ultimate 
confinement to the cotton belt to be inevitable. He 
thought, therefore, that the university ought to be situ- 
ated where it woid.d accomplish the good for which it 
was immediately intended ; and therefore from the first 
the bishops and dioceses whom he sought to associate in 
the project of the university were the bishops and dio- 
ceses of the cotton States. With the existing educational 
institutions of those States it was his desire that the 
University should cultivate the closest relations of good- 
will, and also, if possible, of active cooperation. It en- 
tered into th(i plans of the University that it should 
have subordinate preparatory schools in aU the States, 
and that it should afford ample facilities for special 
stmly to the students and graduates of all other insti- 

The conception of the university as it was at last 
matured in Bishop Polk's mind was grand indeed — 
grander than he sometimes thought it wise to tell. Some 
great domain (such as he did in fact secure) was to be 
exclusively devoted to the purposes of education, with- 
out interference from any power or person outside of a 
board of rrovernors constituted l\v the statutes of the 

yEt. 48] A BROAD SCHEME. 201 

university itself. The charter of the university was to 
secure to the hebdomadal board, as I think it was called, 
municipal authority within the entire domain. Thus, 
every undesirable association was to be excluded. The 
lands were never to be sold in fee, but only rented on 
long- leases, which shoidd be forfeited if the property 
AvcT'c used for any purpose forbidden by the terms of an 
agreement framed entirely in the interests of the uni- 
versity. In different parts of the domain stately build- 
ings were to be erected, and fitted with all appliances 
that the experience of educators throughout the world 
had found necessary or desirable for purposes of educa- 
tion. From all parts of the world eminent professors of 
all the faculties were to be gathered together, at what- 
ever cost. Inducements were to be offered to distin- 
guished men of letters to make their homes there ; and 
to this end special lectureships were to be endowed which 
should assure them a modest income without withdraw- 
ing them from their particular pursuits. In time it was 
expected that presses would be established from which 
a native literature should be issued. In short, the uni- 
versity domain was to be fitted and prepared for a honu'. 
of aU the arts and sciences and of literary culture in the 
southern States. 

His experience or his observation, or both, had so filled 
him with a horror of the barrack system of lodging stu- 
dents that he would have refused to have anything to 
do with an educational enterprise of which that system 
formed a part. For the university his plan was that 
the students should live with families who should be 
encouraged to make their abode on the university do- 
main for that special purpose. There would always, he 
thought, be a sufficient number of persons of character 
and culture, but of limited means, who would be glad 

'20-1 noMP: LIFE FOli STUDENTS. [1854 

to add to their resources by supplying liomes fov the 
students ; but the number of students in a single family 
was never to be large enough to destroy the feeling of 
family life. Not more than ten or twelve at the utmost 
were ever to be lodged in one house. 

In various waj^s he planned that the students should 
have the greatest possible amount of association with 
theh' kindred, both at their own homes and at the uni- 
versity. It is in the winter season that the climate of 
the cotton-growing regions of the South is most salu- 
brious, and in that season is the time of gi-eatest social 
enjoyment and family festivity. On the other hand, the 
university domain, placed, as it should be (and as it 
was), somewhere in the mountainous region lying around 
Chattanooga, would enjoy a summer climate surpassed 
b}- no other in the world. Therefore it was in the mn- 
ter season that the long vacation of the university was 
to be given, and not in the summer, as is customaiy 
elsewhere ; and strong inducements were to be offered 
to planters and others to make their summer homes at 
the university during the period of theii* usual annual 
vacation of several months. To persons whose sons 
were students such an an-angement would be eminently 
desirable, and it was hoped that the social, intellectual, 
and climatic advantages presented would soon make the 
university domain a place of popular resort to the best 
classes of southern society. The benefit to the students 
of thus maintaining the habit and associations of family 
life in the midst of their studies is obvious enough ; and 
to gather the best elements of the southern people at 
the seat of so great an institution of learning during the 
season of its most active operation must surely exert a 
salutary influence directly upon them and indirectly on 
the whole society in wliich they lived and moved. Thus 


there was no class of the whole people that the bishop 
did not hope might be benefited by the success of the 
nniversity : masters and slaves ; students, parents, and 
society ; the nation in general and the southern States 
in particular, — he thought of all, and he intended good 
to all. 

No one knew better than Bishoj) Polk that for the in- 
auguration of so vast a scheme, and much more for its 
successful accomphshment, time and money would be 
necessary. But he also knew that time is always com- 
ing, and he had an abiding faith that his southern 
countrymen would come to his assistance with generous 
gifts and munificent endowments as soon as they should 
understand his plans. In order to build solidly and 
grandly he was content to hasten slowly. He expected 
years to elapse before the university could be begun- 
He did not think that any beginning could be safely 
made until a minimum sum of half a million of dollars 
should have been subscribed and paid into the treasury, 
or otherwise secured in a safe and available way. It is 
true that half a million of dollars at that time, when 
money commanded a much higher rate of interest than 
now, was an immense sum, but it was only a begin- 
ning of the endowment which in his opinion would be 
needed for the work. He thought that before the uni- 
versity could bo said to be safely established it must 
have an endowment of three millions of dollars. No 
part of the endowment was to be spent, even for the 
erection of buildings ; the interest only was to be used ; 
and as the usual rate of interest at the South was eiglit 
per cent., the interest of only one half-million of dollars 
would have given an annual sum of forty thousand 
dollars with which to begin the erection of the necessary 
buildings. If peace had continued and Bishop Polk had 


lived, there is not the slightest reason to donbt that he 
would have secured the whole sum of three miUions of 
money for the endowment of the university ; for when 
he and Bishop Elliott could hardly be said to have made 
more than a fair beginning of the work of canvassing 
for subscriptions, they had actually secured something- 
over half a million. Never were higher, nobler, or better 
founded hopes more cruelly frustrated. The misery of 
war swept the endo\\Tnent clean away, and after the war 
was over nothing remained but the magnificent domain 
on the Sewanee Mountain and the recollection of a glo- 
rious hope. All honor to the men who, with the recol- 
lection of so great a hope, have had the magnanimity to 
labor faithfully for smaller things with motives worthy 
of the gi'eatest. 

It was in the summer of 1856 that Bishop Polk made 
his first public announcement of the university project. 
He had weighed every difficult}' and believed that every 
difficulty could be overcome. He had estimated the 
forces and resources which might be set in motion and 
applied to the furtherance of his scheme, and was satis- 
fied of their sufficiency. Ha\ing assured himself that 
the time was ripe for the accomplishment of the work, 
he addi-essed a printed letter^ to the bishops of the 
dioceses in the States of North and South Carolina, 
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, 
and Tennessee (which he caused to be widely distributed), 
claiming their counsel and cooperation. He appealed to 
them on the ground of their apostolic character and 
jurisdiction, and reminded them that as their commission 
extended to all men within their dioceses, and not less 
to those who rejected than to those who admitted their 

1 •' University of the South Papers."' vol. i, p. 4. 


authority, so it was tlieir bounden duty to labor for 
the intellectual as well as the religious welfare of all for 
whom that commission made them so deeply responsible. 
In the same letter he sought to stimulate and inspire the 
churchmen of the South by his unequivocal declaration 
that Church principles "are of the essence of Christ's 
religion," and to encourage them with the hope of win- 
ning back to the Church thousands whose forefathers 
had wandered from it. Having thus prepared them for 
his proposition, he proceeded to show that a perfectly 
equipped institution of learning provided by the Church 
and governed by the Church, but open to all the people 
of the South and intended for the benefit of all, would 
lie the best means of reaching all. He admitted the 
value of the existing institutions, but he pointed out 
their defects and showed the reasons of their insuffi- 
ciency. State institutions, he said, had been weakened 
by the erection of denominational colleges, and the 
latter had weakened each other by their numbers and 
rivalry, so that, at last, none of them could offer their 
students the opportunities and facilities which were 
requisite for the acquisition of the highest learning. In 
the meantime the Church had not one institution of her 
own, even for the training of her ministry. From this 
cause many persons were deterred from entering the 
ministry at all ; and hence at the South, where a native 
ministry was peculiarly desirable, no native ministry 
could be provided. Observing a delicate silence con- 
cerning the disastrous failure of previous educational 
enterprises undertaken liy different dioceses and indi- 
vidual bishops at the South, he showed that not one of 
the dioceses whose bishops he was addressing was strong 
enough l)y itself alone to accomplish any great work of 
that kind. But what was impossible for them singly 


he insisted that they had ample means to accomplish on 
the grandest scale if they would nnite their forces. He 
called attention to the incidental advantages of frequent 
association and conference with each other which woidd 
follow from their association in some great work of 
common interest, in putting an end to the painful isola- 
tion from the larger movements of the Church to which 
the southern churchmen were condemned by the dis- 
tance of theu- homes from the great centers of Chiu'ch 
life and energy. Then, opening before the eyes of his 
readers the map of the southern States, he showed them 
that '' trade, with her lynx-eyed vigilance for commer- 
cial advantages," had laid down her iron roads fi-om 
every State in the cotton belt to a common center, in a 
region of unsurpassed salubrity, at the southern end of 
the Alleghany range of mountains, thus bringing every 
one of the dioceses concerned within easy access of a 
])art of the country which, on every account, was well 
adapted to the purpose contemplated. If the \'iews 
which he had thus presented found favor with his breth- 
ren of the episcopate, he suggested that a meeting for 
conference on the subject might be conveniently had 
during the sessions of the General Convention of the 
Clinrch whieli was to meet in the following October, 
when they might call to their councils the clerical and 
lay deputies of their several dioceses. 

The letter of the bishop had an instantaneous effect. 
The grandeur of his project and the bold simpHcity with 
which it was set forth appealed to the imagination of 
his readers, and its practical common sense conciliated 
their judgment. To the bishops it opened a way of meet- 
ing their responsibilities as it had not before been pos- 
sible to meet them, and of magnifying their office by 
the " good work " which is its gloiy. To the southern 


Church at large it gave the inspiration of a lofty enter- 
prise by which it might become the benefactor of all 
classes and conditions of men, and vindicate its claim 
to he the Church of the people. At the same time, une- 
quivocal as were the Chm-cli principles expressed in the 
letter, it contained nothing to wound the feelings of 
Christian people of whatever name, and to the minds of 
southern men of all religious tendencies and associa- 
tions it brought a hope of wiping out the shame with 
which their sectional opponents were continually twit- 
ting them, that the southern people had proved them- 
selves incapable of creating institutions of the highest 
learning. The whole public of the South was attracted 
to the Church as it had never been before ; and even 
men like Governor Swain of North Carolina, president 
of the university of that State, who believed that the 
State and not any particular church ought to provide 
the highest educational privileges for the youth of the 
country, were candid enough to admit that, if any church 
were to undertake that duty, " the Episcopal Church is 
the most compact and perfect thing that has ever been 
devised on this continent." 

Now that he had taken the responsibility of proposing 
the scheme of the university without seeking to involve 
any one else in the danger of possible failm-e, the bislioi) 
was assiduous in commending it by private correspond- 
ence to representative men of all sorts. The amount 
of his correspondence at this time, conducted as it Avas 
without the assistance of a scci-etaiy, was almost incred- 
ible. But it was to his dearest friend, Bishop Elliott, of 
Georgia, that he opened his mind with tlie most perfect 
unreserve. Polk and Elliott were the complements of 
each otlu'i". B}' l)ii'th, by education, and by every in- 
stinct of their natiu'es, they were gnitlenirii. One who 


kuew them both, and knew them well, has said : *' It 
has been my privilege to know many noble men, many 
Christian men, many gentlemen in every way worthy 
of the name; but no two men have I ever known so 
brave, so strong, so courteous, so gentle, so nobly manly, 
and so sweetly and simply godly, as those two." It was 
natural that Leonidas Polk and Stephen EUiott should 
love each other ; they could not lielp it. But there was 
a peculiar fitness in their associaticm with each other ; 
for EUiott had precisely the qualifications which ena- 
bled him to supplement what Polk lacked. He was an 
accomplished scholar, classical and artistic in all his 
tastes, a master of English, and yet so profound a stu- 
dent of natural science that in certain departments he 
was admitted to be among the foremost men in the 
whole South. Thus he was ready to enter fully into 
Polk's views of the due scope of a liberal education, 
neither undervaluing classical learning nor content that 
it should be divorced from science. His accomplish- 
ments as a -WTiter fitted him to put liefore the pul)lic in 
the best form the views which they held in common, and 
in the documents concerning the university subsequently 
published under their joint names it is easy, from cei'- 
tain peculiarities of style, to recognize the hand of 
EUiott. Polk's style was not perfect, and he generously 
rejoiced in the superior literary accomplishments of 
EUiott. Polk's own style, however, was very far from 
being a bad style. It was at least good enough to con- 
vey his ideas so clearly and forcibly as to impress them 
on the minds of his readers, and he had the rare faculty 
of impai'ting to what he wrote something of the mag- 
netic influence wliich so wonderfully marked his inter- 
course with other men. Tliis nuiy be felt even now in 
reading his letter to the s(»uthern bishops, referred to 


above, and in his letters to Elliott, which are given 

below : 

New Orleans, July 23, 1856. 

My dear Elliott : I send you herewith a letter I have taken 
the liberty to address to you and others of our brethren in 
southern dioceses, publicly, on a su]:)ject which very nearly 
concerns us all, and which I trust wiU find favor with you. 
The letter will explain itself. I am satisfied now is oiu- time. 
If we unite we can accomplish all we want. We have strength 
enough in the Church, but for such purposes and under such 
auspices we shall not want help from those who are Avithout. 
Whatever is done should be done judiciously, but upon the most 
liberal scale. There is no reason why in such hands and 
under such supervision we might not in five years have a 
Church university which would rival the establishment at 
Harvard or Yale. I am perfectly and increasingly satisfied 
that notliing short of that will save us as a Chin-ch, and as a 
southern Church in particular. A movement of some kind is 
indispensable to rally and unite us, to develop our resom'ces 
and demonstrate our power. We must rise above diocesan 
considerations, and look to the good of the whole, in this case, 
as our individual good. Separately we are powerless, and 
we can gain efficiency only by combination. 

Take the whole matter, my dear brother, into your serious 
consideration, and let me hear what you think of it. I regi'et 
the number of errors inflicted upon it in its passage through 
the press. I \vTote it on the eve of my departure for a visita- 
tion fi'om Avhich I have just returned, and left it to another to 
read the proofs. 

Very truly and affectionately, 

Leonidas Polk. 

New Orleans, August 30, 1856. 

My dear Elliott: I have been sick, and have been at the sea- 
side for a few days. On ray return I found your welcome 
letter of the 2d. 

When making that tender of a plan of union and coopera- 
tion contained in my printed letter, I did not foi'get your ex- 

liiO SIGN8 OF THE TIMES. [185(3 

perience in tlic matter of school enterprises. I was prepared 
to have you remind me of the adage of tlie "bm-nt child," and 
felt I must accept it as a plea in abatement of any special en- 
thusiasm on your part at the outset. It was not only a sore 
but a sound piece of instruction, that of yours ; and one upon 
w'liich I felt we might count as an avaUabUity in the present 
matter. We did not fail, my dear brother, to suffer with you 
whde you were suffering, so far, at least, as we were per- 
mitted by the facts and circumstances. You have, undoubt- 
edly, been forced to see things from a point of view which 
\\dll be useful to us in the General Conference, and may help 
to keep us off a rock or a sand-lmr. Let us not make our con- 
clusions broader than our premises, however. Failure in one, 
two, or half a dozen instances should not be conclusive against 
all effort to remedy a confessed e\dl of increasing and porten- 
tous magnitude. The wisest and most forecasted and cautious 
of men are still men, and are not above the reach of mishaps 
or errors. 

And besides, God's pro\ddence, for wise reasons, may some- 
times interpose and prevent lesser successes that the way may 
be open for greater. Who can tell ? But, be all this as it 
may, here stands out, patent upon the face of things, in bold 
and startling relief, a mass of facts touching the present and 
futui-e of our southern Church, which demand to be seen and 
considered and dealt Avith, if we mean to meet what the times 
exact, and to keep the Church for whose success we are com- 
mitted from being swamped. 

I think, my dear EUiott, I cannot be mistaken in the signs 
of the times. A few years more are all that are wanted to 
make what is now a shadowy phantom an embodied and liv- 
ing and impressive reality ; and we shall have nothing left us 
but bitter and unavailing reproaches if we do not wake up 
to the necessity of pro-\dding amply for the emergency that is 
at the door. You know as well as I do the state of feeUng 
which is every day gi'owing stronger among northern clergy- 
men and teachers, churchmen though they be, on the subject 
of coming South to labor. Thus far we have been able to 
hold that matter in check in the northern Church mind by the 


independent, and manly, and Christian way iu which we have, 
as southern churchmen, dealt with the question. But it is in 
check only ; it is a pent-up thing ; it is tremendously pressed 
from the rearj it feels the pressure; and now and then it 

cries out (as in 's article, with its slurs on bishops, on 

which I took occasion, by the way, to give him my mind very 
fully). Now, my dear sir, the time was when I did not tliink 
it worth while to discuss such things. It is with the extrem- 
est reluctance that I admit the necessity now ; but I must be 
blind as a churchman — hopelessly blind — if I did not see 
them. I say, then, as a Church, where are we in these dioceses, 
cut off in feeling, and in sympathy, and in fact from the dio- 
ceses of the North, with a wall as high as the heavens between 
us and them ? Look over your clergy list, and the lists of all 
your brethren around you, and see whence it is. Look over 
the lists of the teachers of your schools, your governesses, and 
your tutors. Whence are they ? It may be said that the Good 
Book says : '' Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." It is 
true ; but the Good Book never takes a one-sided view of any- 
thing, and we read in it also that "a wise man foreseeth the 
evil and hideth himself, but the fool passeth on and is pun- 

Talk of slavery ! Those madcaps at the North don't un- 
derstand the thing at all. We hold the negroes, and they 
hold us ! They are at the head of the ladder ! They furnish 
the yoke and we the neck ! My own is getting sore, and it 
is the same with those of my neighbors in Church and State. 
We think it safe to avail of the sensibility still left. There 
is such a thing as induration, and we are afraid of it. But 
besides, we are afraid of the influence of northern semina- 
ries and colleges on the mind of southern youths. We 
revolt at the humiliation to which the impotence of our 
position and resources subjects us now, and still more at the 
deeper humiliation into which we see it in the power of 
contingencies at hand to plunge us. In short, we see no Avay 
in which relief is to be had but by rising right up and meet- 
ing the emergency. We must shake off our lethargy, awake 
to the actual position of affairs, and set ourselves to pro- 


viding foi' our own wants. Tliis is our first duty, supposing 
no such feeling as that existing at the North had being. 
How much more in the face of that feehng! 

I see Avhat you say of the influence of theological semi- 
naries and presses. All that is very well. But to kick 
against them is to kick against the pricks. The decree is 
gone forth ; they are inaugurated 5 they are enthroned ; 
they reign ! They are the coinage of the mind and heart 
of the age. They are necessaries which its sense of its wants 
has demanded, and does demand, and will have. The thing, 
then, to be considered is whether you will have them im- 
posed upon you by somebody else, or whether you will organ- 
ize, equip, control, and use them for yourself, and employ 
them, if need be, in imparting what you think the truth of God 
to the minds of others. We must either receive or make im- 
pressions. "We have done our share of receiving! The 
time has fully come when we should enter upon the work 
of making aggi*ession as the very essence of our commis- 
sion. Educational establishments in all departments are 
the universally recognized arsenals whence available armor 
is to be drawn for that sort of campaigning, and a sorry 
plight we shall find ourselves in presently, cut off from 
those whence we have been accustomed to draw, with no 
alternative of our own in reserve. No, my dear Elliott; I 
see nothing left us but to imite at once, and hastily, for the 
common defense. 

I note what you say of a university. In the first place, 
I think you are mistaken as to the strength of the Church 
in these States. I think, if properly approached, with a 
full and free exposition of our actual condition, we shoulil 
find churchmen — they surely have the ability — willing to 
come up to such work as is now indicated, and to lay the 
foundation of such institutions of learning as are indispen- 
sable for our security and protection, to say nothing of our 
prosperity. But they must be made to see the whole ground, 
and to effect that we have only to will it. But, my dear 
sir, we are, as I think, fortunate in our sun-oundings, in the 
condition of the whole atmosphere at the present moment. 


The temper of the outside public is ripe for just such a 
movement. It is the thing of all others that they are well 
prepared for. The events now rife and current have forced 
the Southern mind back upon itself. It has been and is 
being drawn fi'om the North in spite of itself, especially for 
the means of educating the young. A large number of the 
young people will be forced back from the other side of 
Mason and Dixon's line. Right or wrong, their parents, 
to use their own language, " would rather their children 
should go half educated than send them thither." But 
they would prefer that they should have access to the high- 
est educational advantages. How is this thing to be ef- 
fected *? If it is to be done, it must be done by themselves 
and their section, and they cannot do it unless they unite. 
We have, it is true, many colleges, but they are local. They 
do not expect to do more than to provide for their several 
States. They have not the claims nor the prestige of any- 
thing like nationality about them. They are not conmion 
stock. They are not placed on such a footing as will supply 
the facilities or advantages offered by Harvard or Yale. 
Our people feel this. They are twitted with the difficulty, 
and they feel the taunt, but they could not be rallied upon 
any one of the existing colleges to supply the deficiency. 
They would find it easier to unite in a new thing, especially 
if the auspices under which it is introduced and is to be 
arranged were acceptable. Such I believe to be just the 
condition of the present movement. I believe the southern 
mind outside the Church is ripe for this. I believe it will 
hail the movement with pleasure, especially if we strike 
high with a good strong hand, with a united heart and will, 
and if we propose to them the sort of thing which will sup- 
ply that of which they are deprived. To be attractive it 
must come up to the measure of the necessities of the oc- 
casion. It must fully meet their wants. If we propose 
this — we, as churchmen — and pledge ourselves to its ad- 
ministration as leading clergymen and laymen of these dio- 
ceses, we shall not lack the money necessary to carry out 
the wishes of all parties. To be anything, this movement 


must be everytliing: required for eilucation. Its veiy am- 
plitude will be its claim to the confidence and support of 
the public. As a highly intelligent Methodist said to me 
with regard to it, the fact that people give grudgingly to 
a local enterprise is no proof at all that they will be guided 
by that rule in such an enterprise as this. 

How the proposal is likely to take with the public generally 
you will see by the notice taken of it by the whole New 
Orleans secular press. These papers, copies of whose issues I 
have caused to be sent you, represent all opinions in pohtics 
and religion. They are the exponents of public sentiment, 
and, to a man, take favorable notice of the movement, com- 
mending and sanctioning it as meeting a necessity. This they 
have done of their own fi-ee will and accord. They have thus 
stamped upon it the approbation of the southern public, and 
to a certain extent guaranteed for it southern countenance 
and substantial aid, so far at least as this region which they 
represent is concerned. They have confidence in the integrity, 
capacity, social power, and influence of the Church. If we say 
Ave will take the laboring oar, they will accept the ser\ace 
and be pleased to use us for their purposes and those of this 
region. There ought to be enough love of learning in the 
Church itself to found and amply endow the institution we 
would establish. I think there is a large amount at our dis- 
posal — enough, perhaps, for our purpose. 

To unite the Church in these ten dioceses, and to unite the 
people of these ten States, a vast and rare advantage is found 
in the fact that the dioceses and States are the same. This is 
true of none other of the religious organizations. I cannot 
doubt, therefore, if we will go together in solid column, we 
may carry all our points to the satisfaction of all fair and rea- 
sonable expectations for the Church as well as the State. But 
besides, have we no Abbots or La-svrences ? AVhy not find men 
and women who, for their Church's and their country's sake, 
will found professorships and scholarships and fellowships, 
and libraries and chapels ? None in all these ten plantation 
States ? You must have the opportunity offered in order to 


So much of this matter, which I confess appears to my 
mind, as a southern man and as a churchman, to be of lead- 
ing importance. Having leisure, I have allowed my pen to 
say quite as much as I fear you will have time to read. For 
tlie rest, I shall be glad to discuss it with you when we meet 
in Philadelphia.! If better things or a better way can be 
shown by ^\•hich we can carry out our wishes and meet the 
necessities by which we are all oppressed, I shall be glad to 
fall in with them and bear my share of the work of making 
them ours. I trust we may be preserved from error, and 
guided to wise and sober conclusions. I have letters from 
Atkinson, Davis, Ruttledge, and Otey, all of whom express 
satisfaction with this plan of mine, and bid the movement 
God-speed. Green and Freeman, I take it, are away from 
home ; but from both of them I have had verbally their assent 
to the movement and an expression of their desire for co- 
operation. Several of Cobbs's clergy assure me of his co- 
operation. I sent the printed letter to all the clergy in the 
States, and to all the leading laity whom I knew. From many 
of them in all the States, both clergy and laity, I have had 
letters expressing strong approbation of the proposal, with 
offers of strong personal influence and of money. . . . 
Very truly and affectionately, 

Leonidas Polk. 

Beyond all question it was vdtli considerable anxiety 
that Bishop Polk awaited the meeting of the General 
Convention of 1856, at which his expectations of snpport 
in his enterprise were to be verified or disappointed; 
but, as the days went on, his anxiety was set at rest by 
the -evidence of sympathy and the promises of snbstan- 
tial assistance which came to him from all parts of the 
South. Long before the Convention met, he was assured 
of the cooperation of the southern bishops ; and indeed 
if the l)ishops themselves had been less warm in their 
approval of the proi)osed institution, they would have 

1 At the meeting oL' the Gcueral Coiiventiou. 


been roused into enthusiasm In- the earnestness with 
whieh it was received by their elero^j- and laity. 

When they actually met at the Con\ention they united 
ill an address to the southern Church,^ which was doubly 
valuable as the first official indorsement of Polk's scheme 
by the hierarchy of the south, and as an evidence of the 
power with which he had impressed his ideas on men of 
independent character, of ripe experience, of high office, 
and of unquestionable conscientiousness. 

The project of establishing the university was now 
fairly launched in full \-iew of the Chui'ch and the 
world. In the South it had been everwhere hailed 
with acclamation, and the approval of multitudes who 
were in no way connected with the Church was appar- 
ently as cordial as the utterance of the Church itself. 
Indeed, the Church seemed to be strangely quiet. It 
had been called, most unexpectedly, to the aecomphsh- 
meut of a work which all men felt to be necessary, but 
which, by common consent, it seemed to be conceded 
the Church alone was capable of performing. With- 
out hesitation, but equally mthout boastfulness, the 
dioceses of the South accepted the duty devolved upon 
them. One by one, in their annual diocesan conventions, 
they considered the proposition submitted to them by 
their bishops, and unanimously resolved to do what was 
required of them. Delegates were chosen in every dio- 
cese to attend a meeting which had been appointed to 
be held on the 4th of Juh', 1857, on Lookout Mount- 
ain, Tenn., for the purpose of taking preliminary st«ps 
toward the perfecting of an efficient organization foi* 
the founding of the university. 

The holding of that meeting on the anniversary of the 

1 See " University of the South Papers," vol. i, p. 15. 


national independence of the United States was intended 
to proclaim the national and patriotic sentiments of all 
who were engaged in the enterprise. In the original 
conception and in every detail of the project their aims 
had been sincere. In nndertaking their work they had 
thonglit to benefit their own section, not only without 
injnry to any other, bnt with ultimate advantage to their 
whole country ; and yet they had been forced to recog- 
nize the painful fact that a narrow prejudice had caused 
a beneficent project, which, if undertaken at the North, 
would be regarded as a soui'ce of just pride, to be con- 
sidered by certain of their northern brethren as an ob- 
ject of suspicion and dislike. It was humiliating to be 
compelled to recognize the existence of such feelings ; 
but the University of the South was intended to be not 
a whit more sectional and not a whit less nationally 
patriotic than the institutions of Harvard, Yale, Colum- 
bia, or Princeton. Its promoters knew themselves to be 
sincere lovers of their whole country. In the veins of 
some of them flowed the blood of men whose swords 
had aided in achieving the independence of these States, 
and whose counsels had been heeded in the first founda- 
tion of the Union. If sectional animosity had sprung 
up, no influence of theirs had sown or fostered it. If 
the Union had indeed become endangered, they were 
not responsil)le. In their places as citizens and as 
churchmen they were loyal alike to the United States 
and to the several States to which they owed allegiance. 
The work in which they were engaged was meant to 
further purely patriotic ends ; and they resolved that 
their first associated act should be a public celebration 
of the independence of their countiy, the rearing, as 
Otey said, not of an altar of political schism, but an 
" altar of witness " to the loyalty of their intentions. 


The trustees assembled for the first time at Lookout 
jMountaiu, near Chattanooga, in the State of Tennessee, 
on the 4th of July, 1857. Accompanied by a goodly 
iiuiiil)t'i" of the clergy and laity of the Church, and of 
other citizens, tliey formed a procession and marched to 
the place appointed for the exercises of the day. Tlie 
flag of tlic United States was borne by a surviving sol- 
dier of the Revolution, while national airs were played 
l)y a band which had been secured for the occasion. The 
assembled company sang the hundredth Psalm, and then 
the Bishop of Mississippi read the twenty-second chapter 
of Joshua. To use the words of Bishop Lay, that chap- 
ter " recites how tlie tribes of Reuben and Gad and the 
lialf tribe of Mauasseh received their inheritance ' on the 
other side of Jordan ' ; and how, when their enemies 
were all defeated, and they had returned to their homes, 
they 'built there an altar l)y Jordan, a great altar to see 
to.' It describes the indignation of Israel ; the expostu- 
lation of their deputed elders against what seemed to be 
an act frauglit with rebellion and hostile to the peace 
and unity of brethren ; and the earnestness with which 
any such intentions were disclaimed. They had said, 
• Let us now prepare us an altar, not for burnt-offering 
nor for sacrifice, but that it may be a witness between 
us and you, and our generations after us, that we might 
do the service of the Lord, . . . that yoiu* children may 
not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part 
in the Lord.' The reader added no comment to this 
well-chosen Scri|)ture — already every heart was full. 
For these first sjjoken words expressed the thought of 
all, that not in malice or in mischief, not in rebellion or 
in disaffection, had Ave come together beneath the blue 
sky; that, so far from rearing an altar of discontent, we 
had met witii a just ])ride in our common heritage, with 


au abiding devotion to our common faith, with more 
than a brother's hive to the tribes more numerous and 
more favored than ourselves, separated from the hills 
and streams of our common home." After the lesson 
the Te Be urn, was suug, prayers were offered by the 
Bishop of Alabama, and the Gloria ui Excehis was 
chanted by the company. Then the Declaration of 
Independence was read, and Bishop Otey proceeded to 
deliver the oration of the day. 

" Various emotions," says Dr. Lay, " were stirred as 
the right reverend speaker uttered his earnest words. 
The reference wdth which he happily began, to St. Paul's 
claim to Roman citizenship, reminded us all that the 
patriot is not of necessity lost in the Christian ; that in 
liolding aloft the cross of Christ we need not blush to 
place beneath it the stars and stripes ; and that, after 
the echoes of the hills had been awfdvcd with the loftiest 
strains of Christian praise, it was not unfitthig to bid 
them presently give back the animating notes of free- 
dom's songs." 

'' Thus far," continues the narrator, " the flag hung 
idly from its staff ; but when the bishop began to speak 
of our country and the love all good men bear it, a 
breeze came to stir the stars and stripes ; and still as he 
proceeded to denounce the thought that we would come 
with holy words upon our lips to plot mischief against 
our brethren, the flag waved more proudly than before, 
seeking the person of the speaker, and causing his words 
to come, as it were, from the midst of its folds. As the 
oration progressed, warm tears filled many an eye and 
would not be repressed. At its close the band struck up 
' Hail Columbia,' and the company rose to their feet. 
Many hastened to thank the orator for the just expres- 
sion he had given to their sentiments ; then all dispersed 

220 '' DECLAliATIOX OF Plil}^ CIPLESr [lSo7 

and might be seen in friendly gi'on})s still prolonging 
the pleasant theme." 

The next da\ , Sunday, having been spent in the enjoy- 
ment of religions privileges, the l)()ard met on Monday 
for the despatch of business, and ado])ted a " Declaration 
of Princii)les." kSeveral necessary committees Avere ap- 
pointed, particularly one to collect information on the 
subject of a suitable location foi- the nniversity, and the 
board adjourned again to meet in Montgomery, Ala., in 
the following Xovemljer. 

We here produce a letter from Bishop Polk to his 
l)rother-in-law. Mr. Kenneth Raynor, of North Carolina, 
which deals with tlie subject dwelt npon by Bishop Otey 
in his address ; and any (me avIio is familiar with the 
true state of affairs in the United States in the years 
during which the effort was being made to found this 
nniversity can but acknowledge that it strikes close to 
the ro(;t of the difficulty which rendered possible the 
war between the States. While the politicians were en- 
gaged in drafting compromises Bishop Polk wrote : 

Beersheba Springs, Tenx., July 30, 1S57. 
I have endeavored to keep you advised of the progress of 
my scheme for founding an Oxford, or a Gottingen, or a Bonn, 
or all three combined. I am at it very steadily, and thus far 
very successfully. You will have seen in the papers a notice 
of our meeting on the Fourth. It was a glorious day and fixed 
tlie success. I refer you to the account in the Church Jour- 
nal of New York, to be published shoi-tly. I am resolved, 
with the help of God, that this thing shall be felt by the Chi;rch 
and the State. I am sure that the tone of the admirable ad- 
dress by Otey, every word of which I indorse, our senior and 
orator on the occasion of the organization, will satisfy you 
and all Union-loving men very thoroughly. I will send j'ou a 
copy on its appearance. You will perceive, while it looks to 
catering to our owu innuediate wants, it breathes a spirit of 

^t. 51] FOli NATIONAL FEELING. 221 

broad nationality. I understand P is afraid it ■nnll injure 

Chapel Hill. But we shall give all these good gentlemen who 
indulge in talk about the South a chance to show their. hands. 
We shall see what they mean when they cry, " Down with the 
abolitionists and up with negrodom ! " I believe it will do 
more to compose and reconcile national feeling through the 
Church than anything, or all things together, that Episcopa- 
lians have attempted heretofore, besides giving us as a sec- 
tion a position from the possession of such an educational 
resource which will assure to us a respectability and influence 
of more consequence tlian all sectional political combination. 
I am happy to say a spirit of enlightened and liberal patriot- 
ism seems to animate those who are chiefly interested, and wc 
have reason to believe we shall not want the means, as we do 
not lack the nerve, to carry this thing steadily and quietly to 
its ultimate consummation. 

The interval which elapsed between the meeting at 
Lookout Mountain and the adjonrned meeting at Mont- 
gomery was full of business. The bishop was chairman 
of the committee on the location of the university ; and 
from all parts of the district within which it had been re- 
solved to select a site, applications poured in upon him 
from individuals and communities, urging a considera- 
tion of the advantages of situations in which they were 
interested, and making large offers of material contribu- 
tions in ease the points which they recommended should 
be chosen. Conspicnously advantageous offers were sent 
from Atlanta, Huntsville, McMinnville, Lookout Mount- 
ain, and Sewanee, any one of which might well have 
been accepted with satisfaction ; bnt the bishop was re- 
solved to let no consideration weigh with him against the 
natural features which he liad held to be essential to the 
realization of his plans. He personally examined every 
proposed site, and, not content ^vith his own impressions, 
he organized an engineer i-orps. undci* the cliai'ge of an 


accomplished engineer, to make a topo^-aphical survey 
of each one of them. The minute instructions given 
to the engineer were from Polk's hand, and showed the 
variety of the research on which he was resolved to base 
his final judgment. 

With tlic fullest attainable information concerning 
the places proposed for the location of the university, 
the board of trustees, when they met at Montgoraeiy, 
found it almost impossible to make a selection. Several 
ballots were taken without a choice, and the board ad- 
journed for several hours in order to give time for more 
mature deliberation. On reassembling, many more in- 
effectual ballots were had ; but on the seventeenth ballot 
the tellers reported that Sewanee had been chosen by 
the following vote : 

Of bishops : Sewanee, 5 ; Atlanta, 2. 

Of the clerical and lay tinistees : Sewanee, 4 ; Hunts- 
ville, 2 ; Atlanta, 1. 

Thus Sewanee, which had been the choice of Bishop 
Polk from the first, became the choice of all. If he had 
pressed his preference upon his colleagues, the end might 
have been reached in less time, but it would have been 
less satisfactory. He had foreseen that no agreement 
could be reached in favor of any other place, and he felt 
sure that the wonderful adaptation of Sewanee to the 
objects of the university would in the end commend it 
to the preference of a majority of the board. Besides 
the natural advantages to be mentioned presently, tlie 
offers made b}- the parties interested in the selection of 
Sewanee were of princely liberality. The president of 
the Sewanee Mining Company offered in the name of tlu^ 
company to donate 5000 acres of land ; to grant the 
tiiistecs of tlif university the right to cut from other 
lands belor.giiig lo the company i)ine timber to the 


amount of 1,000,000 feet of lumber ; to transport over 
their railroad to tlie site of the university 20,000 tons 
of building-material, free of charge; and to give the 
university 20,000 tons of coal within ten years. In 
addition to this, a wealthy citizen of the neighborhood 
offered to give 5000 acres of land adjacent to the tract 
offered by the Sewanee Company ; and three other gen- 
tlemen offered a third tract of land, described as " cover- 
ing pretty much the whole track of the Sewanee Raih-oad 
on the side of the mountain, along which are valuable 
quarries of sand and limestone, and on which there is 
excellent timber for building, all of which is at the ser- 
vice of the university." By accepting these offers the 
university at once acquired a magnificent domain of 
about ten thousand acres, lying on a gently undulating 
plateau nearly two thousand feet above the level of the 
sea, and eight hundred and fifty feet above the level of 
the surrounding country, from which it is separated 
by almost perpendicular cliffs ; with every material for 
building in abundance — stone, lime, sand, brick-clay, 
and timber of the best quality — within its own area; 
with innumerable springs of pure water bubbling from 
the rocks ; with ample supplies of excellent coal within 
a few miles and to be had at a very moderate cost ; the 
whole area of the plateau affording, according to the 
report of the engineer, " a gi-eat variety of picturesque 
sites for single buildings, and extensive level areas for 
groups, commanding beautiful views of the plains below, 
and of towns and mountains in the distance." This 
superb domain is reached by a railroad which the art of 
the constructor has made to climb the very face of the 
precipice by which the plateau is elevated above the plains 
beneath, thus l)riiigii]g the site of the university within 
easy access of all the dioceses united in its interest. 

224 CHOICE OF A NAME. [1857 

Tliis important matter having been apparently settled, 
the trustees proceeded to make choice of a suitable name 
for the university. Three names were proposed : the 
University of the South, the Church University, and tlie 
University of Sewanee. There was something to be said 
for and against all these names; but tlie almost unani- 
mous judgment of the trustees was tliat the fii'st was 
preferal)le to either of the others, and it was accordingly 
adopted. A committee was appointed to obtain from 
the State of Tennessee a charter, the provisions of which 
had been carefully considered, and then the laboring oar 
was put, as might have been expected, into the hands of 
Polk and Elliott by their appointment as commissioners 
to raise the money part of the endowment needed for 
the universit3\ The condition annexed to the grant of 
the Sewanee Company required that '' active operations 
on the buildings be begun in eighteen months," and the 
'^ Declaration of Principles" adopted by the board at 
its first meeting had pledged them not to put the uni- 
versity into operation until the sum of at least five hun- 
dred thousand dollars should have been secured. There 
was every indication, however, that the required amount 
would be secured within a very short time. Bishop Polk 
had declared in his first letter to the southern bishops 
that he could pledge his own diocese for '* its full share 
of whatever means might be required,'' and the gi-ounds 
on which he had felt authorized to give this assurance 
had been strengthened by the voluntary promises of cer- 
tain mimiflcent churchmen in Louisiana and elsewhere 
to endow professorships as soon as the university should 
be prepared to put its schools into operation. The com- 
missioners had every reason to feel confident ; but, with 
the best of hope, the task which they had undertaken 
Avas an arduous one. dcmnndiim' much self-sacrifice and 


no little sacrifice from others dearer than themselves. 
"At this time," Mrs. Polk writes, " I felt as if I had lost 
m}' husband, and as if my cliildren had lost their father. 
On one occasion I remember saying, greatly to his 
amusement, ' I hate the university ! ' for, as I said, I was 
willing to give him up to his parish or his diocese, but 
tins seemed to be an outside thing, and I felt as if I were 
cheated out of my rights." So far as the university was 
concerned, nothing could be more auspicious than the 
aspect of its affairs at the adjournment of the meeting 
at Montgomery. It had acquired a magnificent domain ; 
it had received the strongest proofs of pubhc approba- 
tion ; it had practical assurances of munificent support ; 
and it had secured the services of men of the highest 
rank and of the maturest wisdom. 

The first step now to be taken was, of course, the 
obtaining of a charter from the State of Tennessee, 
which was signed by the Secretary of State on the 15tli 
of January, 1858, and granted to the corporation every 
power for which they applied.^ A committee, at the 
head of wliicli were Polk and Elliott, had been appointed 
to draft a constitution and code of statutes for the gov- 
ernment of the university, and they made no light work 
of their task. They had already been collecting materials 
for it from the public and private libraries of the coun- 
try, and through tlie assistance of the government at 
Washington they had obtained valuable contributions 
from abroad. They had before them the reports of Her 
Britannic Majesty's commissioners appointed to iuquu-e 

1 It was specially provided in the charter that the university might be 
established either at Sewanee or at any other place in Tennessee that the 
trustees might select. This provision was inserted because of an un- 
founded rumor which had been spread abroad, but which was speedily 
and satisfactorily set at rest, that Sewanee was infested with a malarial 
disease called "milk-sickness." 

226 ENDOWMENT. [185U 

into the state, discipline, studies, and revenues of the 
imiversities and colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, 
together with reports and calendars of Queen's Univer- 
sity, Ireland, King's College, London, The London Uni- 
versity, and of many schools of law, medicine, divin- 
ity, agriculture, art, and applied science. From France, 
also, and Germany, they had an immense number of 
educa.tional works and treatises of various kinds. These 
were all to be studied, and they were studied faithfully. 
At the same time a vast correspondence was kept up 
with distinguished educators, scholars, and men of scien- 
tific attainments from whom any assistance might be 
had in considering the best plans of organization. Thus 
the remainder of the year passed ; and before its close 
every whisper of objection to Sewanee had been hushed 
into silence. 

The appeal of the commissioners met with such im- 
mediate and gratifying success that when the board of 
trustees again met at Beersheba in the month of August, 
the following report of what had been accomplished was 
presented : 

The commissionei's appointed to collect the endowment of 
the University of the South beg leave to report : 

That they have given as much time as could be spared 
from their parishes and dioceses to the -work assigned them, 
and have met the heartiest response from that portion of the 
counti'y which they have been able to visit. The collections 
have been confined almost entirely to Louisiana, in conse- 
quence of having begun our work at New Orleans. The two 
or three months which we found it possible to give to this 
duty were fully occupied in the fiekl upon which we entered, 
nor did we by any means exhaust that. While the sum 
required for the commencement of operations coidd have 
been easily secured by skimming the surface of the associated 
dioceses, the large endowment we propose to raise required a 

^t. 53] .1 PRINCELY DOMAIN. 'J27 

careful and special canvassing of each particular diocese. To 
do this requires time. From the intelligent appreciation of 
our purposes and the general liberality which has met us 
everywhere, we feel authorized to say to the board that we 
consider the endowment of the university as secui'e beyond 

The amount we have received in cash, bonds, and notes 
payable in available periods is $363,580. Besides this we 
have pledged from entirely reliable parties, to be fulfilled 
within a short period, about $115,000 ; but as these pledges 
have not yet been secured by bonds or notes, we have not 
included them in the amount reported. 

All which is respectfully submitted. 

Leonidas Polk. 
Stephen Elliott. 

Beebsheba, August 12, 1859. 

At the same meeting the treasurer reported that 
$2000 had been invested for the university in Alabama, 
without counting a sum of $20,000 given for the pur- 
pose of endowing a professorship of agriculture. At 
the same meeting, also, the committee on the survey 
of the lands of the university reported that the exact 
amount of land which had been conveyed to the trustees 
at Sewanee was 9525 acres. Thus, after a partial can- 
vass of one diocese only, and within the space of less 
than three months, more than half a milhon dollars had 
been secured, and the university was the owner of a 
princely domain of nearly ten thousand acres of land. 
The few who had been inclined to regard Polk's project 
as visionary were effectually silenced by such an instant 
response to his appeal to the liberality of his fellow- 
churchmen and to the public spirit of his fellow-citizens. 
From this time forward till the fatal catastrophe of the 
war fell upon the country, no one doubted that he would 
realize in its entirety the grand project with which he 

228 JiKSKlXATloy oF PAJiJSH WORK. [isr>i) 

luid SO signally inspired the enthusiasm of the South, 
It was e\'ident to the board, however, that the prosecu- 
tion of the work of raising the endowment required an 
amount of time and labor which must render it impossi- 
ble for Bishop Polk and Bishop Elliott, both of whom 
were rectors of parishes as well as diocesan bishojis, to 
attend to their parochial duties, and a resolution was 
unanimously adopted requesting them to resign their 
parochial cures and accept an annual sum of money to 
replace the income derived from their salaries as rectors. 
The trustees adjourned at Beersheba to meet again in 
New Orleans in the month of February next following. 
How Bishop Polk was employed in the mean season will 
appear from the following letters : 

To Bishop Elliott. 

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 

September 20, 1859. 

My dear Elliott: I am in receipt of your two letters to Raleigh, 
and I have to say that more exemplary punctuality or more 
trenchant promptitude could not have been exhibited, even if 
you had been a martinet in that particular form of vu'tue. 

I am glad the books i have an-ived safely. It is a valuable 
cargo, and could not readily be replaced. I trust, too, that 
when we come to their examination we shall deal with them 
neither ia the spirit of ser\ile copyists, nor yet with that ridic- 
ulous modern conceit which affects superiority to the lessons 
of experience ; but that, with an eye to the pecuUarities of our 
national and local circumstances and necessities, we will give 
to everything its appropriate value, take what meets our own 
case, and leave the rest alone. 

I am here for several days, domesticated with my old friend 
and [college] room-mate, Governor Swain. I have had full 

1 The books referred to here were those sent by the superintendents 
of public instruction of France and Prussia, and also from Oxford and 
Cambridge, England. 

yEt. 53] ACTIVE WORK. 229 

and extended conversation with liim on university matters 
generally, and have gotten out of him and other professors 
all they know that is likely to be of any value to us, and 
some valuable hints on a number of points among them. 
The Episcopal professors are all delighted with our plan and 
all very full of it. The others look upon it with great re- 
spect, but fear the effect, of course, on their institution. I 
have done what I could to allay those fears, and not without 
success. Swain, of course, like Thoruwell, thinks the State 
should do the work, but says that for our plan, quoad hoc, 
the Episcopal Church is the most compact and perfect thing 
that has ever been devised on this continent. 

I am more than ever convinced of the importance, neces- 
sity, and surpassing power of our movement, and more than 
ever impressed with the weight of responsibility upon us who 
are charged with shaping its life. We have need to pray for 
wisdom and prudence and moderation and judgment as few 
men ever had. Yet the Lord knoweth our motives, and we 
trust will bear with us and help us. 

I note what you say of your I'esignation. I dare say it is 
what you should have done. It is certain we shall have full 
occupation for some years to come. 

But of all these things we shall talk more fully at conven- 
tion. The course of the campaign for the winter you indi- 
cate, so far as I can see, is satisfactory. 

I remain yours faithfully, 

Leonidas Polk. 

Washington, D, C, November 4, 1859. 

My dear Elliott: I find it will be impossible for me to get to 
you so soon as I expected. I shall therefore appoint the 25tli 
of November as the day of meeting in Savannah. I shall 
notify others of the day. 

I had a very interesting visit to Lexington. I got out of 
Colonel Smith and his associates some very useful hints. He 
has a noble institution, and is doing a good work for the State 
of Virginia and the whole South. He can, and will, be of great 
use to us. 


I came here the day before yesterday, and since I have 
been hero I have been constantly employed in collecting use- 
ful matter in various departments. T have failed in the affair 
of the laudscape-g-ardenor. He would be perhaps the man we 
want, but his health forbids his coming to us, and we must 
look elsewhere. 

I examined, with my friend Colonel Anderson of the army, 
the pubhc buildings going up under the care of my old friend 
Captain Bowman of the engineers, in the Treasvu-y Depart- 
ment, and have obtained a good many ideas in that line, and 
have established a connection for future use. 

Yesterday I spent the day and dined with Professor Bache 
of the Coast Service, another of my West Point associates 
and friends. He invited Professor Hemy of tlie Smithsonian 
to join us, and we went very fully into educational matters, 
and discussed our plans very fully. They are both veiy deeply 
impressed with the importance of our work, and enter into 
its development with strong sympathy and generous offers of 

Henry invited me over to the Smithsonian to-day. I went, 
and examined his work thoroughly. It is a very extended 
affair, and is accomplishing a great work for the increase and 
diffusion of knowledge. It is far in advance of anything I 
had conceived. Many of the best of his plans may be appro- 
priated by us with advantage. 

I leave in the morning for Philadelphia, and shall hope to 
meet my daughters the first of next month on their retm-n 
from Europe. I shall spend a few days with them in Phila- 
delphia, then go to West Point, and, if I can, to Harvard for 
a day or so, thence to join you at Savannah. 

I exceedingly regi-et that you could not be with me in this 
visit to the Point, and Harvard especially; and if I saw any 
way by which it could be done in time for our uses, before 
the preparation of our report at a later day, I would pro- 
pose to have you aid in the work of inspection : but this I 
do not see. 

With kind regards to Mrs. Elliott and the little ones. 

Yours very truly, Leonidas Polk. 


The board of trustees met in New Orleans on Febru- 
ary 8, 1860, and continued in session until the 13th, con- 
sidering a draft of a proposed constitution and statutes 
for the university which had been prepared by a coni- 
ndttee consisting of Bishops Polk, Elliott, Rutledge, and 
[.ay, the Rev. Dr. Pise, and Messrs. Fairbanks of Florida, 
C'ooper of Georgia, and Fogg of Tennessee. After a 
careful revision the report of the committee was laid 
over for final consideration and adoption at a meeting 
to be held at Sewanee on the 9th of October following, 
at which time it was arranged that the cornerstone of 
the university should be laid with appropriate cere- 
monies. Pursuant to adjournment, the board reassem- 
bled at the appointed time, and remained in session for 
four days, during which the constitution and statutes 
were finally adopted, and the cornerstone was laid. 

The constitution and statutes are given in an appen- 
dix. ^ It is not necessary to discuss them at length. 
When it is remembered that, at that time, the idea of a 
university as a school of all learning, and not merely 
a college of the then existing American pattern, had 
hardly yet been imagined by the greater number of 
American educators, it will readily be perceived that 
the plan of the proposed University of the South an- 
ticipated the immense educational advance which has 
marked the progress of the past thirty years. It would 
be too much to say that it was perfect in detail ; in some 
particulars it would certainly have required important 
modifications. Nevertheless, making the largest allow- 
ance for its defects, no one who is inthnately acquainted 
with the state of the higher education in this country at 
that time can fail to be impressed with the magnificence 

1 See Appendix to Chapter VI. 


«)f the project or the far-sighted wisdom of the educa- 
tional system which it proposed. 

As the work of organization progressed, Bishop Polk's 
heart was gladdened by finding in Bishop Hopkins a 
most encouraging and helpful friend. This was all the 
more gi"ateful to him, as coming from a man he greatly 
esteemed, and a bishop who held so commanding a posi- 
tion among northern churchmen. He induced liiin to 
spend some time at Sewanee, that Bishop Elliott and he 
might avail themselves of his suggestions and counsel. 
The following extracts from letters to Bishop Polk show 
how dee]>ly the Bishop of Vermont was impressed by 
the work. On March 26, 1860, he writes : '' The more I 
reflect upon it, the more I am convinced of the relig- 
ious and moral grandeur of your plan." Again, on the 
25th of July of the same year : " You, and your admira- 
ble colleague, Bishop Elliott, have a firm hold upon my 
strongest confidence, and my most cordial sj'mpathies. 
The Lord has raised you up for the noblest work in 
your day and generation, and it is my earnest hope and 
daily prayer that you may be guided by His unen-ing 
wisdom to the full attainment of your most sanguine 

Writing to Mrs. Polk under date of February 14, 
1867, he said : 

jMy own visit to the grounds intended for the great Uni- 
versity of the South was the result of your dear husband's 
kind partiality. The grand enterprise itself was suggested 
by his mind, and his extraordinary influence and zeal had 
already secui'ed for it, within his own diocese, half a million 
of dollars. He brought with him to Sewanee at that time a 
large box entirely filled with the results of cori-espondence 
with the leading men in Europe, and the scholastic institu- 
tions of the Old World, as well as the laborious and thor- 

^Et. 54] J.A YIXG THE CORNEliSTONE. 233 

ouglily digested projects for the southern university, which, 
when completed, was to be the noblest and best-endowed in 
Christendom. And as he unfolded the design, and gave me 
some idea of the vast amount of toilsome work accomplished 
by Bishop Elliott and himself in its preparation, I was amazed 
and dehghted at the combination of original genius, lofty en- 
terprise, and Christian hope with the utmost degree of prac- 
tical wisdom, cautious investigation, exquisite tact, and inde- 
fatigable energy, which far surpassed all that I could conceive 
within the bounds of human efficiency. In fact, I was almost 
carried away by my admiration of the grand conception ; and 
if circumstances had rendered it possible I would have been 
willing to enlist my own moderate ability under his master 
mind to aid in its execution. 

On the iiintli day of October, 1860, the cornerstone of 
the nniversity was laid \>\ Bishop Polk, with appropriate 
ceremonies, and in the presence of a concourse of several 
thousand spectators. Bishop Otey of Tennessee pre- 
sided. The orator of the day v^as the Hon. Colonel John 
8. Preston, of South Carolina. Toward the close of his 
address Colonel Preston pointed to the bishops on the 
platform, and said: "This movement we owe to the 
band of holy men wdio have devoted their gifts to an 
enterprise of Christian patriotism. I cannot praise them 
with fulsome eulogy, nor can 1 discriminate their several 
shares in this work ; but you and they and the world 
will feel that I am not to blame if I turn to you, right 
reverend sir [addressing Bishop Polk], and say of you, as 
the Roman historian said of Alexander, ' He took cour- 
age to despise vain apprehensions ; ' and further, that 
whensoever it shall j)lease God, your Master, to stay 
your radiant right arm from his battlefields on earth, 
and call you to His everlasting triumphs, the heavens 
and your grateful country will read upon your tomb 
' The Founder of the Universitv of the South.' " It was 


recorded by the Rev. John Freeman Young, afterward 
Bishop of Florida, that this jnst and generous apostro- 
phe moved the vast assembly to iinmense applause, not 
unmingled with tears. After a recess for refreshment, 
addresses were delivered by Commander Maury, of the 
United States Observatory at Washington ; by President 
Barnard, of the University of Mississippi, afterward 
president (^f Columbia College ; by Bishop Smith, of Ken- 
tuck}', afterward presiding bishop of the Church in the 
United States ; and by the Hon. J. Bright, of Tennessee. 
Only the gathering shades of night compelled the vast 
audience to disperse, filled with the inspii-ation of a glo- 
rious purpose which was never to be realized dm'ing the 
life of any one of its original promoters. 

In this imperfect outline of the organization of the 
university which Bishop Polk proposed to make the 
great work of his life, enough has l)een said to tell how 
the germ of his purpose grew out of his own experience 
and observations which he made at a very early period 
of his life ; how it expanded and matm-ed in his mind 
for many years, till the propitious moment seemed to 
have come for its inception ; how he then proposed to 
meet a want which all men felt, but which none before 
him had imagined could be met at all ; how he infused 
the ardor of his own spirit and the gi^andeur of his own 
conception into the Church and people of his section ; 
how he grappled with the difficulties which beset him in 
liis work, and sliowed by actual demonstration that his 
scheme was as practicable as it was magnificent and 
beneficent ; how lie organized the separate weakness of 
the southern dioceses into such united strength as to 
command the public confidence and approbation ; how 
he secured to the university a domain of absolute mag- 
nificence; and liow he collected from a i)artial canvass of 


one diocese only, the large sum of nearly half a million 
of dollars, thus assuring-, under any ordinary eireum- 
stances, the full endowment of three millions whieh he 
had at first declared to be necessary for the achievement 
of his plan. We have seen the pure sincei-ity aiid the 
noble simplicity which illustrated every step of his pro- 
gress toward the end at which he aimed, the generous, 
courteous candor with which he disarmed opposition and 
conciliated sympathy, and the statesmanlike sagacity 
with which he was content to leave trivial faults to be 
corrected by general consent, when experience should 
demonstrate their inexpediency. None of these things 
is it needful to exaggerate or magnify. It is enough for 
this man that he should be known for what he was. 
Neither need we dwell on the misfortune of the failure 
of his plans. That, too, may be left to the hearts of all 
who can shed teai-s for great things lost and great men 
who have failed in them. The record of his deeds and 
purposes are his best eulogy. Of the failure of his plans 
— if they have indeed failed, which is by no means cer- 
tain — it is enough to say, 

'Tis not in mortals to command success; 

but he did more, — he deserved it! 

[A noble man physically and socially, with a mind of in- 
stinctive cooi'dination, and with every endowment to draw 
others to liim and interest them in what lie had in his heart, 
and with grace, and that undefinable power of holding others 
to his objects, Bishop Polk was undoubtedly the man who 
originated the notion of a union of dioceses in the founda- 
tion of the University of the South. And without at all 
deti'acting from his noble and gifted compeers, whose special 
services in this matter are properly inscril^ed in their indi- 
vidual memoirs, it is likewise true that to Bishop Polk's per- 
sonal influence and genius for organization is duo the merit 


of successfully inaii.o-urating the movement. His appeal to 
the planters of Louisiana and the other southern dioceses 
for indorsement in the premises and for funds was, in 
its promptness and consiunmation, like a brilliant military 
movement. As it were, in one campaign the success of the 
University of the South was assured. What special part 
Bishop Polk had in the wise suggestions as to the organiza- 
tion of the institution, the modesty and high breeding of the 
man leaves no recorded trace ; but from the wise selection of 
commissioners to study the plans of the best universities, at 
home and abroad, as to composition and methods, from the 
character of their reports, and from the patient analysis which 
resulted in the statutes of this university, one seems to detect 
the mind of the great general, in which action follows only 
upon exhaustive observation. 

But Bishop Polk and his colleagues, after having, as far 
as human foresight could do so, founded and endowed a 
imiversity great beyond the conception of anything that this 
country then had in the way of educational institutions, got 
only a glimpse of his vision of faith and splendid achieve- 
ment. It was a glorious \^sion, that faded, however, in war, 
defeat, and death. There were two ghmpses of it. The first 
we can understand. The second is shrouded in mystery that 
will be disclosed only at the last day. 

The first gUmpse of what must have been his "most bea- 
tific vision" as regards this university was in the faU of the 
year 1860, when he came with a goodly company of bishops 
and clergy of the Church '"to lay in Zion for a foundation 
stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure founda- 
tion " of the school that seemed, Minerva-hke, to have sprung 
fully equipped from the sea of ignorance, degradation, secu- 
larism, and materiahsm, that even in that day could be de- 
scried by the prophetic eyes of those men as the great danger 
to the best development of this land. We can all understand 
that that glimpse of the vision must have gladdened his heart 
as he saw^ around him on the mountain-top the largest and 
most distinguished gathering of people which has ever been 
collected at Scwance. 

^t. o9J ItEtiULTS OF THE CIVIL WA1{. 237 

But no man can read the mystei-y of tliat glimpse of the 
vision that came to him three years later (18G3), when as 
general he passed with liis army corps in retreat over this 
same mountain, obstinately contending' for the liberties of his 
people. With a broken heart, indeed, he must have passed 
down from the place of his loves and hopes, leaving it to the 
invader, who ground to pieces that cornerstone of the uni- 
versity which he had seen laid with so much enthusiasm 
and reverence only a few years before. 

Bishop Polk's direct impress upon the University of the 
Soutli was, of course, before the late war. It was then that 
his most brilliant work was done for it; but by no means his 
most lasting work. 

The war left the University of the South only its princely 
domain at Sewanee, its charter and statutes, and the notion 
of a real university. These latter were the true legacies left 
by the founders of this work; and so genuine are they, as 
pertaining to the need of this country for higher culture, so 
wise, and so far-reaching, that no room is left for amendment. 
They have been severely hammered by different boards of 
ti'ustees, but they retain their original form, and are ever 
reverted to with relief after tentative excursions from their 
secure bases. 

Telfaiu Hodgson, 
Deui) tfthc, Thcjthxjn'dl Department. 

At the close of the civil war in 1865, the Rt. Rev. Charles 
T. Quintard, Bishop of Tennessee, revisited the site of the 
University of the South. He found the domain a wilderness, 
the buildings in ashes, the veiy cornerstone in fragments. 
The splendid endowment which had been secm'ed by the per- 
sonal efforts of Bishop Polk and Bishop Elliott had been swept 
away. There seemed to be no hope of reviving the institution. 
However, an organization was effected in 18G7 by the election 
of Bishop Quintard as Vice-Ghancellor and Major George R. 
Fairbanks as Commissioner of Buildings and Lands ; and the 
same year a grammar-school was opened at Sewanee with nine 
pupils, and little by little a community was formed, buildings 
were erected, and the school placed upon a permanent basis. 


In 1871 the academic department of the university was or- 
ganized by the election of five professors. The theological 
department, with four professors, was opened in 1876 ; the 
medical department in 1892, and the law department in 1893. 
Tlie heroic struggle of the university made it more and 
more widely known throughout the country, and drew 
together in its faculty men of fine learning and lofty aims, 
who fixed high its standard of scholarship, and left upon it 
the indelible impress of their own enthusiasm and faith. 
It is for this reason chiefly that the institution has held its 
own, without endowment, in the midst of so many well- 
equipped State universities that have come into existence 
since the war. It stands for a true ideal in education. The 
requirements for the ordinary academic degrees are perhaps 
higher than those of any other southern university, 'W'ith 
one possible exception ; and the severest trials have never 
induced its professors to lower this standard for the sake of 
popularity. The moral and intellectual atmosphere . of the 
place is so pure and bracing, the relations between the pro- 
fessors and students are so frank and cordial, the enthusiasm 
is so unbounded, that these characteristics, along with its 
pecuhar and picturesque surroundings, give the University 
of the South a unique and attractive personality. At the 
last meeting of the Board of Trustees there were twenty- 
eight professors and somewhat over three hundred students 
repoi'ted on the roll. The theological deijartment, supported 
by the voluntary offerings of the southern dioceses, has 
already sent out moi-e than one hundred clergynKm, one of 
tliem a bishop of distinguished ability and influence, and 
all of them weU furnished and consecrated to their work. 
Tliis school has been the recipient of several benefactions 
in the last few years for scholarships, etc., amounting to 
about $75,000. and it is hoped tliat a permanent endowment 
will soon be secured. The university has been enaVjled by 
generous friends from time to time to erect fine pennanent. 
builflmgs, viz: the Hodgson Library, given by the Rev. 
Dr. and Mr.s. Telfair Hodgson ; St. Luke's Theological Hall, 
given by Mrs. C M. Manigault ; the Convocation House, 


largely the result of gifts from Mr. Wiley B. Miller and Mr. 
Thomas Breslin ; the Thompson Medical Hall, named after 
the largest donor, Mr. Jacob Thompson ; and the Walsh 
Memorial Hall, a magnificent Iniilding, containing all the 
offices and lecture-rooms of the academic department, given 
by Colonel V. D. Walsh. These buildings are all of Sewanee 
stone, and, without exception, beautiful and imposing in de- 
sign. In 1S90 the Board of Trustees adopted a plan for the 
university buildings, consisting of two large quadrangles, a 
bold and striking application of principles suggested by the 
buildings of Magdalen College, Oxford. The group com- 
prises the Convocation House and the Walsh Memorial Hall 
on the left, which have already been erected, and the Chapel, 
Cloisters, Gymnasium, and Commencement Hall in the center 
and on the right, for which funds are now being solicited. 

It will be thus seen that the University of the South has 
had a severe struggle for existence. And yet the su.ccess 
achieved is almost without parallel for the same period. 
Instead of money it has had the faith and self-sacrifice of 
its officers, the love and enthusiasm of its students, and its 
history, so sad in many respects, so encouraging in others, 
has delivered the institution forever from commonplace and 
narrow aims, has inspired it with great ideals, and has 
broadened its vision because it has enriched its life. 

Thomas F. Gailor, 

Vice- Chancellor A 



Article I, 

This University shall be called The University of the 
South, and shall be in all its parts under the sole and perpet - 
ual direction of the Protestant Episcopal Chvirch, represented 
by a Board of Trustees. 

Article II. 

The Board of Trustees shall be composed of the bishops of 
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, 
Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, and the bishop ex- 
ercising jurisdiction in Arkansas, e.r officio, and of one clergy- 
man and two laymen from each of said dioceses, to be elected 
by the convention of the same : who shall hold their offices 
for the term of three years from the date of their election, or 
until their successors shall have been appointed. If there 
should be an assistant bishop in any of these dioceses, the 
diocese in which there is an assistant bishop may be repre- 
sented by either its bishop or its assistant Ijisliop, but never 
both at the same time. 

Nine of their number shall constitute a quorum for the 
transaction of business, provided each class of trustees — to 
wit, bishops, clergy, and laity — shall be represented by not 
less than two of their number. A vote by orders may be de- 
manded, and then the joint r-onscnt of the bishops as one 



f ^j-?^ 

ifrr' , 


1 1 J I ^ 


"^ -likjol^** 


iHt bourn, SbWANEE. Tenn 



order, and of the clerical and lay trustees as another order, 
shall be necessary for the adoption of any measure proposed. 
Vacancies occurring in the order of clerical and lay trustees 
shall be filled in such manner as shall be provided by the 
conventions of the respective dioceses. 

Article III. 

The Board of Trustees shall have the power from time to 
time to appoint, and for cause to remove, the Vice-Chancel- 
lor, the Professors, Assistant Professors, Lecturers, Fellows, 
and all officers, agents, and servants of the University, and 
shall have the entire management and supervision of the 
affairs, concerns, and property of the University. 

The Board shall have power from time to time to make any 
statutes and regulations, not inconsistent with the Constitu- 
tion or the laws of the land, or to alter or repeal the same, 
touching the government of the University, the appointment 
and removal, number and rank, powers and duties, stipends 
and emoluments, of the several persons employed therein, the 
terms and conditions upon which students shall be admitted, 
the course of instruction, the police and government, times of 
meeting of the Board of Trustees and other boards which 
may be hereafter pro^^ded for by statute. 

The Board may erect all necessary buildings, and in genei'al 
shall have power touching all other matters whatsoever re- 
garding the University and the interests thereof. And all 
statutes and regulations, when reduced to writing and made 
public, in such manner as shall be provided by statute, shall 
be binding upon all persons members of the University or 
anywise subject to its government. 

The University shall have a common seal, and the Board of 
Trustees shall have power to use the same for the affairs and 
concerns thereof, and to direct and manage such affairs and 
concerns, and to receive, issue, invest, lay out, and dispose of 
all stocks, effects, funds, moneys, and securities, and to con- 
tract for and purchase messuages, lands, tenements, and her- 
editaments, and goods and chattels, for the use of the Univer- 
sity, and to sell, demise, alien, lease, or otherwise dispose of 


any property whatsoever, real or personal, belonging thereto, 
in any manner not repugnant to the pro\'isions of this Con- 

The Chancellor for the time being, or in case of his absence 
the bishop next in order of consecration, sliall be President 
of the Board of Trustees. 

All questions shall be decided by the majority of members 
present, except when a vote by orders shall be called for. 

The Board shall have full power to estabhsh literary and 
scientific departments, and those of theology, law, and medi- 
cal science, and such other departments as they may see 
proper, and to confer upon students, or any other person, the 
degree of Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, or any degree 
known and used in any college or university. They shall 
have power also to appoint persons to fellowships, according 
to such regulations as they may prescribe. 

Article IV. 

The Senior Bishop (by consecration) of the dioceses afore- 
said shall be the Chancellor of the University. He shall not 
be required to reside at the University. 

Article V. 

There shall be appointed by the Board of Tmstees a Vice- 
Chaneellor, who shall be the administrative head of the 
University. He shall preside over all meetings of the Heb- 
domadal Board, and perform such other duties as may be 
prescribed by the Board of Trustees, and shall hold his office 
during good behavior, and shall be required to reside at the 

Article VI. 

The Board of Trustees shall appoint a Secretary, to hold 
liis office for the tenn of three years, or until his successor 
shall be appointed. 

Article VII. 

There shall bo a Treasurer of the University, who shall 
be appointed by the Board of Tnistecs, and sliall hold his 


office for the term of three years, and continue in office 
until his successor is appointed and shall have given bond. 
Such Treasurer shall receive the interest money derived 
from the securities held by the Diocesan Treasurers, and 
all moneys paid in for tuition, fees, lectures, tickets, fines, 
etc., and any funds which may inure to the University other- 
wise, and expend the same imder the direction of the Board 
of Trustees. He shall perform such other duties as may be 
required of him by the Board of Trustees, and receive such 
compensation for his services as they may prescribe. He 
shall give such bond and security as may be required by 
the Board. He shall report annually to the Chairman of 
the Finance Committee the state of the finances and prop- 
erty of the University, and shall be requh-ed to reside at the 
University. He shall keep the funds of the University and 
all other funds deposited with him, under such regulations 
as shall be made by the Board of Trustees. 

Article VIII. 

There shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees an 
Auditor, whose duty it shall be to examine and audit all 
accounts connected with the business of the University, and 
perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the Board. 
He shaU reside at the University, and hold his office for the 
term of three years, and receive such compensation as the 
Board of Trustees shaU prescribe. 

Article IX. 

There shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees a Comp- 
troller, whose duty it shall be to examine the accounts of 
the Treasurer, to make a final adjustment of all accounts 
connected with the business of the University, and perform 
such other duties as shall be devolved upon him by the 
Board of Trustees. He shall receive si;eh compensation as 
they shall prescribe, shall be required to reside at the 
University, and shall hold his office for the term of three 


Article X. 

There shall be elected a Committee on Finance, to serve 
for tlu-ee years, composed of one clerical and two lay trus- 
tees, Avho shall prepare from the reports submitted by the 
General and Diocesan Treasurers, and report to the Board 
of Trustees at their annual meetings, a full statement of 
the University funds, its outstanding obligations, and the 
amounts required to carry on its operations for the coming 
year : and to enable such Committee to be prepared to sub- 
mit their report at the opening of such annual meeting of 
the Board, it shall be the duty of tlie General Treasurer and 
of the Diocesan Treasurers to prepare and bring forward 
their reports to the Chairman of said Finance Committee at 
University Place, at least ten days before the annual meeting. 

Article XI, 

There shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees a- Com- 
missioner of Buildings and Lands, who shall have the general 
superintendence of the buildings and lands, and shall be un- 
der the supervision of the Vice-Chaneellor, and perform such 
duties as shall be prescribed by the Board of Tnistees. He 
shall hold his office for the term of three years, shall receive 
such compensation as the Board of Trustees shall prescribe, 
and shall have his residence at the University. 

Article XII. 

There shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees a Reg- 
istrar of the University, who shall be the Secretary of the 
Hebdomadal Board, and perform such other duties as may be 
required of him by tlie Board of Trustees. He shall hold his 
olnce for the term of three years, shall reside at the Univer- 
sity, and shall receive such compensation as may be prescribed 
by the Board of Trustees. 

Article XIII, 

The Board of Trustees shall liave power to appoint, from 
time to time, such officers, for the discipline of the students, 


for municipal si:overnnient, and for the regulation of all per- 
sons residing- upon the domain of the Univei'sity, as they may 
think necessary. 

Article XIV. 

Meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held annually, 
at such time as they may appoint by statute. Extraordinary 
meetings may be held upon the caU of any five members of 
the Board, or upon the request of the Hebdomadal Board ; 
such meetings to be called by the Chancellor. The Board may, 
by statute, provide for the payment of necessary expenses 
incurred by the Trustees in attendance upon such meetings. 

Article XV. 

The fimds subscribed to the University shall all be consid- 
ered as capital, to be preserved untouched for any purpose 
connected with the organization or management of the Univer- 
sity ; provided, that donations and legacies may be received 
for such objects as the donors may indicate ; and provided, 
moreover, that it be distinctly understood that the funds sub- 
scribed in any diocese are the property of the University, 
and not of the diocese, and that the conventions of the vari- 
ous dioceses shall have no control of the same. 

The amount subscribed in any diocese as capital shall, in 
the event of the dissolution of the corporation, be returned to 
the donors or their legal representatives ; and in case of there 
being no legal representatives, then it shall revert to the 
diocese in which it was subscribed. If the capital subscribed 
in any diocese shall be diminished by a failure of securities, 
or otherwise, the remaining capital in such diocese shall then 
be distributed, pro rata, among the donors or their represen- 

No diocese shall be bound to furnish any particular sum of 
money, but the contributions made therein shall be voluntary, 
according to the pleasure and ability of the contributors. 

Article XVI. 

There shall be a Treasurer of University Funds appointed 
in each diocese by the convention of the same, who, when 

246 A1']'KM)1X lO CllAl'TEli VI. 

confirmed by the Board of Trustees, shall hold his office for 
three years from the time of his election, and continue in office 
until his successor shall have been elected and given bond. 
Such Treasurer shall give bond and secm-ity to the University 
of the South in such sum as shall be required by the Board 
of Trustees from time to time. Such Treasurer shall receive 
the cash, notes, bonds, stocks, titles to lauds or other property 
obtained as subscription in that diocese ; and it shall be his 
duty, in conjunction with the lay trustees of the diocese, to 
invest the cash, and aU moneys which shall be derived from 
the reahzation of the above-mentioned private securities, in 
the best public seciu-ities or other safe investments, paying 
over to the Treasurer of the University the interest of the 
amount subscribed, in such manner as shall be prescribed by 
the Board of Trustees; and his aecoimts shall be rendered to 
the Board of Trustees at their anniial session. The Board of 
Trustees shall prescribe rules and regulations for the man- 
agement, safe keeping, and ti-ansmission of the firnds in the 
hands of the Diocesan Treasurers, and shall fix their compen- 

In case of a vacancy in the office of Treasurer, either of 
the University or of a Diocese, the Board of Trustees shall 
be authorized to provide, by statute, a mode of fiUing such 
vacancy until a regular election. 

Article XVII. 

In case of subdi\asion of any of the existing dioceses con- 
nected with the University, each diocese arising out of such 
subdivision shall be entitled to the same number of trustees 
as the respective dioceses are now entitled to, and be subject 
to the same provisions and regulations. 

Article XVIII. 

It shall be competent for the Board of Trustees to admit 
other dioceses into connection with the University of the 
South ; pi'ovided tliat each diocese shall be subject to such 
conditions as naay be required by this Board at the time of 


their admission; and in case of tlie reception into this Board 
of any such diocese, it shall be entitled to the same number 
of trustees as the respective dioceses are now entitled to, 
and be subject to the same rules and regulations. 

Article XIX. 

No amendment shall be made to this Constitution unless 
it shall have been passed at two successive meeting-s, by a 
majority of the Board of Tioistees; provided that majority 
be a quorum. 



The Senior Bishop (by consecration) of the dioceses unit- 
ing for the foundation of the University, shall always fill the 
office of Chancellor. He shall not be required to reside at 
the University. 


Section 1. The Vice-Chancellor shall be elected by the 
Board of Ti'ustees. He shall be the resident head of the 
University. He shall have control over aU its departments, 
and shall be exclusively an administrative officer. He shall 
be furnished with a house, and be paid a salary of $6000 per 
annum, and shall hold his office during good behavior. 

Sec. 2. In the government of the University he shall be 
assisted by a Hebdomadal Board, to be composed of such 
Professors as shall be hereafter named. 

Sec. 3. He shall have the sole power of granting leave of 
absence to Professors, Fellows, other officers, and students 
of the University. He shall have power at all times to visit 
any hall, lect\ire-room, office, student's room, or public apart- 
ment of the University. 


Sec. 4. Wlienever it shall come to his knowledcfe that any 
Professor has been negligent of his duties, or has shown a 
want of zeal in imparting instruction to his school, or in 
l)roinoting the interests of the University, he shall advise 
and remonstrate with such Professor of the University. 
And should any such Professor, or other officer of the Uni- 
versity, be inattentive to the advice or remonstrance of the 
Vice-Chaneellor, the Vice-Chancellor shall, after giving such 
Professor or other officer notice of his intention, and fur- 
nishing him with a copy of the official statement he proposes 
to make of the case, call the attention of the Board of Trus- 
tees to the conduct of such Professor or officer. 

Sec. 5. The Vice-Chancellor shall have power to license 
boarding-houses for the students, and to exercise a full su- 
pervision of them through the Proctors, for the purpose of 
ascertaining whether the regulations made for their order 
and discipline have been complied with. 

Sec. 6. The Vice-Chancellor shall cause to be prepared by 
the Registrar monthly reports of the conduct and scholarship 
of every student, which he shall transmit to the parents or 
guardians of such students. 

Sec. 7. It shall be his duty to make a report to the Board 
of Trustees, at their annual session, on the general condition 
of the University during the past year, and to suggest for 
their consideration such alterations and improvements on 
aay subject as shall have been ap])roved by the Hebdomadal 
Board. He shall also present for the examination of the 
Board, at its annual session, a digest of the weekly reports of 
the Professors of the conduct and scholarship of the students 
of their respective schools, and shall super\dse the prepara- 
tion of the annual calendar. 

Sec. 8. The Vice-Chancellor, in case of absence or of in- 
capacity frojn illness or any other temporary cause to dis- 
charge his duties, shall have the power of appointing as his 
substitute any one of the Professors. But should he fail to 
appoint a substitute, or resign, or die, then the office shall be 
filled by the Hebdomadal Board, from among the heads of 
schools; and such person, so ap|)i>inted, shall exercise the func- 


tions of the office until the removal of the disability, oi* until 
the Board of Trustees shall have appointed a successor, and 
he shall have signified his acceptance and entered on the 
duties of his office. 


Section 1. The plan of education in the University shall be 
by separate schools for each branch of knowledge. Each 
school shall be complete in itself, independent of all others, 
and devoted to imparting instruction in everything belonging 
to its department. 

Sec. 2. At the head of each school, excepting those of the- 
ology, law, and medicine, there shall be a Professor, to be 
elected by the Board of Trustees. It shall be his duty to 
regulate the studies of his school, for the character and suc- 
cess of which he shall be held especially responsible ; he shall 
engage personally in instruction, by lectures, lessons, and 
written exercises, as he may deem best. Frequent interroga- 
tion of a searching character shall be, however, absolutely 

Sec. 3. Each school shall be divided into sections of as 
many students as may be conveniently or efficiently instructed, 
and no moi'e. The classing of students into sections shall be 
regulated by their attainments, to be determined by examina- 
tion on then- application for admission. But they may be 
transferred from section to section, up or down, according to 
the degi'ee of proficiency they shall from time to time exliibit. 

Sec. 4. In the instruction of these sections the Professor 
shall be aided by as many Assistant Professors as may be 
necessary, who shall be under his direction and control, and 
shall aid him in the instruction and government of the students 
of his school, while in their sections or lecture-rooms. 

Sec. 5. Each Professor shall be provided with a house, and 
paid an annual salary of $3000, by the University. This 
amount may be increased by each Professor from his school 
tickets, to a sum not exceeding $5000 annually. His teniu*e 
of office shall be for five years, but he may be reelected at the 
pleasure of the Board of Trustees. 


Sec. G. The Assistant Professors shall be appointed by the 
Board of Trustees, upon a certificate of the Examiners of the 
University that they have been rigidly examined and are 
competent for theu" office. They shall receive such lodging 
and salaries as the Board of Trustees shall provide, shall be 
appointed for the term of five years, and shall be reeligilile, 
but not without the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor 
and the heads of their respective schools. The Assistant 
Professors may be removed by the Vice-Chancellor, upon the 
representation of the Professors of their schools, for cause 
shown. The reasons of such removal shall be reported to the 
Board of Trustees at their annual meeting next ensuing. 

Sec. 7. Each Professor and Assistant Professor shall keep 
a daily record of the value of each recitation of eveiy mem- 
ber of his section, according to a scale to l)e determined by 
the Board of Trustees, and shall note all cases of absence or- 
of misconduct in section. These records shall be handed 
weekly to the Vice-Chancellor, who shall have them digested, 
and cause the names of the five most distinguished students 
in each section of every school to be published on a bulletin- 
board, to be fixed in some conspicuous place in the University. 

Sec. 8. All transfers of students fr-om section to section 
shall be made by the Professors (aided by their Assistant 
Professors), who shall be responsible for determini n g the 
relative numerical rank of the students of their schools in 
the annual calendar. All lectures by the Professors, es- 
pecially those requiring experimental illustration, shall, in 
general, be common to the several sections of the respective 


Section 1. There shall be appointed by the Hebdomadal 
Board, Committees of Examiners, who shall conduct the ex- 
aminations of all applicants for admission to the University ; 
also of all the school at the annual or other pubhc examina- 
tions; of the candidates for the degrees of the University, 
and its Fellowships ; and also all applicants for the office of 
Assistant Professor. 


Sec. 2. All Professors, whether heads of schools or Assist- 
ants, shall serve as Examiners whenever appointed by the 
Hebdomadal Board. 


Besides the Professors and Assistant Professors of the sev- 
eral schools, there shall be chosen by the Board of Trustees, 
Lecturers, who shall be invited to lecture before the Univer- 
sity upon special topics in any particular school. These 
Lecturers shall have no part in the government of the Uni- 
versity, and shall not be required to be resident, but shall 
repair to the University, at certain seasons, and lecture for 
a limited period. Their compensation shaU be regulated by 
the Board of Trustees. 


The following shall be the schools founded by the Univer- 
sity, so soon as the means at its command shall be sufficient 
for that purpose. The grouping of the topics shaU be varied 
at the pleasui-e of the Board of Trustees. 

The number of schools shall be increased as expediency 
and the progress of letters, science, and art shall suggest. 

1. School of Greek Language and Literature. 

2. School of Latin Language and Literature. 

3. School of Mathematics. 

4. School of Physics. 

5. School of Metaphysics. 

0. School of History and Archaeology. 

7. School of Natural Sciences, with cabinets and garden 
of plants attached. 

8. School of Geology, Mineralogy, and Paleontology. 

9. School of Civil Engineering, Construction, Architecture, 
and Drawing. 

10. School of Theoretical and Experimental Chemistr,y. 

11. School of Chemistry applied to Agriculture and the 

12. School of the Theory and Practice of Agi-icultui-e, with 
farm attached. 


13. School of ]\Ioral Science and the Evidences of the 
Christian ReUgion. 

14. School of English Language and Literature. 

15. School of French Language and Literature. 

16. School of German Language and Literature. 

17. School of Spanish Language and Literature. 

18. School of Italian Language and Literature. 

19. School of Oriental Language and Literature. 

20. School of the Philosophy of Language. 

21. School of the Philosophy of Education. 

22. School of Rhetoric, Criticism, Elocution, and Composi- 

23. School of American History and Antiquities. 

24. School of Ethnology and Universal Geography, 

25. School of Astronomy (with observatory) and Physical 

26. School of Political Science, Pohtical Economy, Statis- 
tics, Law of Nations, Spirit of Laws, General Principles of 
Government, and Constitution of the United States. 

27. School of Commerce and Trade, including the History 
and Laws of Banking, Exchange, Insiu-ance, Brokerage, and 

28. School of Theology. 

29. School of Law. 

30. School of Medicuie. 

31. School of INIiues and Mining. 

32. School of Fine Arts, including Sacred Music. 

The organization of the Schools of Theology, Law, Medi- 
cine, and of Practical Agriculture, shall be determined by 
the Board of Trustees at the time of their estabUshment. 


Section 1. There shall be a Board to be called the Heb- 
domadal Board, whose office shall be to act as a council of 
advice to the Vice-Chancellor in the government of the Uni- 
versity, and of \shicli the Vice-Chancellor shall be President. 

Sec. 2. This Board shall be composed of not more than 
twelve members. 


Sec. 3. So long as the Professors of tlie University shall not 
exceed twelve in number, they shall all be members of the 
Hebdomadal Board. When such number shall exceed twelve, 
then the Board of Trustees shall fill vacancies by election 
from among said Professors. 

Sec. 4. By tliis Board all questions of discipline in the 
University shall be adjudged according to the laws and ordi- 
nances of the Universit3% 

Sec. 5. It shall have the power to appoint examiners of the 
Assistant Professors and students of any or all the schools. 

Sec. 6. It shall meet weekly, but may be called together at 
any time by the Vice-Chancellor, when he shall think it neces- 
sary. This board shall have power to originate and discuss any 
proposition necessary for the good government, academical 
proficiency, repute, and common weal of the University, which 
it may think expedient to lay before the Board of Trustees. 

Sec. 7. "When engaged in the discussion of such proposi- 
tions, the heads of all the schools shall be summoned to at- 
tend, and shall be entitled to engage in the discussion, and 
to vote upon the adoption and rejection of such propositions. 
A majority of those entitled to vote shall be necessary for the 
adoption of any proposition, and in case of a tie the Vice- 
Chancellor shall have the casting vote. 


Section 1. No student shall matriculate at the University 
until he shall have attained such age as may hereafter be 
prescribed l)y statute ; nor unless he shall agree to enter at 
least three schools of the University, one of which shall in 
all cases be the School of Moral Science and the Evidences 
of the Christian Religion. But for special cause shown, the 
Vice-Chancellor may permit the student to take one school 
only beside that of Moral Science. A student may matricu- 
late at any period of the year, upon examination in the school 
"which he proposes to enter, and shall take his place in 
section of the school as his proficiency shall indicate. 

Sec. 2. Every student, when he matriculates, shall be fur- 
nished with a copy of the statutes, and shall signify his intcn- 


tion to conform to the rides and reguLations of the University, 
and his desire to avail himself of the advantages thereof, by 
subscribing the form following : 

" Wo, the undersigned, admitted members of the Univer- 
sity of the South, do hereby acknowledge ourselves subject 
to its authority and discipline, and declare our earnest desire 
faithfully to avail ourselves of its advantages." 

He shall also sign his name in a book, to be kept for the 
pTirpose by the Proctor, in which shall be recorded the name 
and residence of his parent or guardian, and shall pay to the 
Proctor a matriculation fee of $10. 


Section 1. A Calendar of the University shall be pubhshed 
at the end of each academical year, which shall designate the 
rank of every student in each of his schools. Said rank shall 
1)6 compounded of general good conduct, scholarship, and 
examinations. A copy of this Calendar shall be sent by mail 
to the parent or guardian of every student of the University. 
A star, as a mark of distinguished merit, shall be prefixed to 
the names of the first five in each of the schools of the 

Sec. 2. A diploma of graduation in any school may be given 
at the end of each term to each student who shall have 
attained a certain standard, to be determined by examiners 
appointed by the Hebdomadal Board ; but no diploma shall 
in any case be conferred until the candidate shall have passed 
such examination in the English Language as may be ap- 
pointed by the Hebdomadal Board. 

Sec. 3. The degree of A.B. may be conferred on such in- 
dividuals as shall have passed the examination necessary for 
graduation in tlie schools following : 

1. ]\Ioral Science and Evidences of Chi-istianity. 
II. Greek Language and Literature. 

III. Latin Language and Literature. 

IV. Mathematics. 
V. Physics. 

VI. English Language and Literature. 


Sec. 4. The degree of A.M. may be eouferred on such in- 
dividuals as shall have passed the requisite examination for 
graduation in the schools above mentioned, together with the 
following : 

I. Metaphysics. 

II. Theoretical and Experimental Chemistry. 

III. PoUtical Science. 

IV. Rhetoric, Criticism, Elocution, and Composition. 
V. French Language and Literature. 

VI. The German, Spanish, or Italian Language and Litera- 
ture, as the student may elect. 

Moreover, he must be able to speak the French Language 
with accuracy. 

Sec. 5. Fellowships in the University may be conferred by 
the Board of Trustees on such Masters of Arts as have ex- 
celled in any one of the following schools, to wit : of Greek 
Language and Literature, English Language and Literature, 
Physics, Mathematics, Metaphysics, Chemistry, or Natural 

Three Fellows may be elected every year, each of whom 
shall have the use of a suite of rooms free of rent, and $500 
per annum. The tenure of a Fellowship shall be for five 
years. If a FeUow be elected to a Professorship or Assistant 
Professorship, he shall vacate his Fellowship. Every Fellow 
shall reside in the University, and may take pupils for private 
instruction, they being matriculants of the University, and 
receive fees for sucli tuition at a rate to be fixed by the Vice- 
Chancellor and the Hebdomadal Board. 

Sec. 6. The degrees appropriate to the Professional Schools 
of Theology, Law, and Medicine, shall be conferred for attain- 
ments and distinctions, to be determined by the Professors of 
these schools severally. 

Sec. 7. The degrees of A.B. and A.M. shall bo awarded 
by the Hebdomadal Board, when approved by the Board of 
Ti-ustees. All honorary degrees shaU be conferred by the 
Boax'd of Trustees alone. 



Section 1. There shall be a Chaplain to the University, 
appointed by the Board of Trustees, who shall fix his salary, 
and he shall hold his office dui'ing the pleasure of the Board. 
He shall read, every day, the Morning and Evening Prayer 
of the Church in the chapel of the University, shall hold 
the usual public services on Sunday, and shall have a gen- 
eral pastoral oversight of the officers and students of the 

Sec. 2. It shall be the duty of the Assistant Professors, Fel- 
lows, and Students to attend morning and evening prayers ; 
and it shall be the duty of the students and all the officers to 
attend the morning services on Sunday, and upon the greater 
festivals of the Church. 


There shall be a Librarian appointed by the Board of 
Trustees who shall hold his office for the term of five years, 
and who shall be paid such salary and perform such duties 
as the Board of Trustees shall prescribe. 


The Curators of Cabinets, the Museum, etc., shall be ap- 
pointed by the Vice-Chancellor. 


Section 1. The general duties of police shall be performed 
by a Proctor, to be appointed by the Board of Trustees. He 
shall be aided by as many assistants as may be necessary', 
who shall be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor. 

Sec. 2. It shall be the especial duty of the Proctor to exer- 
cise a constant and careful surveillance over the conduct of 
the students, and to report to the Vice-Chancellor all cases 
of infraction by them of the regulations of the Univei'sity. 

Sec. 3. It shall also lie his duty to visit, at least once a 


week, all boarding-houses licensed by tlie Viee-Chancellor, 
and to examine into the good order, comfort, and cleanliness 
of the rooms and offices of the students. He shall, make a 
report to the Vice-Chaneellor at least once a week. He shall 
account to the Treasurer of the University for all matricula- 
tion fees he may have received. 


The Registrar, appointed by the Board of Trustees, shall be 
under the direction and supervision of the Vice-ChanceUor. 
He shall attend daily in his office throughout the University 
term at such hours as the Vice-Chancellor shall prescribe, and 
shall be in readiness at all times to attend the meetings of 
the Hebdomadal Board, for the purpose of recording its 
proceedings. He shall keep a Hst of the hcensed boarding- 
houses, also a list of the names and residences of the students, 
arranged according to their respective schools, and shall fur- 
nish each Professor with a list of the students in his depart- 
ment. He shall prepare and issue, under the direction of the 
Vice-Chancellor, notices for the meeting of the Hebdomadal 
Board, and for other University purposes. He shall digest 
the weekly reports of the Professors and Assistant Professors, 
and shall, under the direction of the Vice-Chancellor, prepare 
the annual Calendar. He shall, under the same direction, 
prepare programmes of all meetings and examinations, and 
conduct the correspondence of the University. He shall keep 
a record of all transactions of the University ; and, when re- 
quired by the Vice-Chancellor, shall prepare the official docu- 
ments, shall preserve copies thereof, and shall make copies 
of all other documents which may be required. 


The Ti'easurer of the University shall receive all funds 
from Diocesan Treasurers and from the Proctor, and shall 
collect such rents due the University as may l)e returned to 
him bv the Commissioner of Buildings and Lands. He shall 


make a full report of the operations and condition of his de- 
partment annually, or oftener if required. 


The Auditor shall examine and audit all accounts of every 
description against the University. He shall critically exam- 
ine and report to the Comptroller the amount properly pay- 
able upon every account presented to him. He shall classify 
all accounts under the different heads of expenditure, and 
keep a register of the nature and amount of each account, 
which shall correspond with the number of such account. 
He shall countersign all warrants drawn upon the Treasurer, 
and shall keep a register of all such warrants as he may 
have countersigned. 


Section 1. The Comptroller shall reexamine all accounts 
reported to him by the Auditor. He shall, if he approve the 
same, enter his allowance thereon, and di-aw his waiTaut on 
the Treasurer for the amount of the same, in favor of the 
individual to whom it may be payable. He shall carefully 
register all accounts and preserve the originals and vouchers 
for future reference. He may draw a wan-ant upon the 
Treasui-er in favor of the Commissioner of Buildings and 
Lands, upon a requisition presented to him, approved by the 
Viee-Chancellor, which waiTant shall be charged to the ac- 
count of such Commissioner; provided that such payments 
have been authorized by the Board of Trustees. 

Sec. 2. The Comptroller shall annually report to the Com- 
mittee on Finance, ten days before the annual meeting of 
the Board of Trustees, a full statement of all the accounts 
allowed and passed by him, properly classified under their 
respective heads of expenditure. He shall also, at the same 
time, report estimates of what amounts will be requisite for 
the expenditures of the University during the ensuing year, 
and the Board of Trustees only shall have the power to make 
appropriations to meet such expenditures. 



Section 1. The Commissioner of Buildings and Lands shall 
have the supervision of all rejDairs ordinarily required for the 
buildings and grounds, under the direction of a Board of 
Control, to be composed of the Vice -Chancellor, the Trea- 
surer, and the Comptroller. To this Board he shall submit 
all plans and estimates for the repair and improvement of 
buildings from time to time, and upon their approval he 
shall be authorized to have the same executed, and not other- 
wise. The general control of the erection of buildings and 
making improvements shall be reserved, however, to such 
Committee as shall be designated by the Board of Trustees. 

Sec. 2. The Commissioner of Buildings and Lands shall 
have the leasing of the tenements and grounds of the Uni- 
versity, under such regulations as may be prescribed in refer- 
ence thereto by the Board of Trustees; and it shall be his 
duty to prevent trespasses and intrusions on the property 
of the University, real and personal, and to recover its pos- 
session from any person who shall improperly withhold the 
same. To this end he is required to be vigilant in obsei'ving 
all trespasses and intrusions, and prompt in reporting them 
to the Vice-Chancellor, in laying them before the civil au- 
thority, and communicating to the proper law-officer, when 
required by the Vice-Chancellor, such information as he may 
at any time have, and as may be calculated to prevent or 
pimish breaches of the peace, trespasses, or misdemeanors 
within the precincts of the University, and instantly to repel 
from the precincts all idle or suspicious intruders who may 
be found lurking within them without ostensible business. 

Sec. 3. He shall cause all the groimds and tenements of 
the University to be kept in complete order and neatness, 
and shall have authority to abate all nuisances on the Uni- 
versity domain. 


Section 1. All students shall be required to board and 
lodge in such liouses as shall be provided or licensed for lh:it 


pui'pose by the University, except in cases where they may 
have parents, guardians, or relatives residing on the domain 
of the University. 

Sec. 2. The number of students occup>-ing any one house 
shall not exceed twelve. Rates of board shall be regulated 
from time to time by the Vice-Chancellor and the Hebdoma- 
dal Board. 

Sec. 3. An amount sufficient to cover the expense of a 
student's board and lodging for three months shall, in all 
cases, be required to be deposited with the Treasurer of the 
University, who shall, upon the order of the student, pay such 
boarding-house keeper, monthly, in advance. 

Sec. 4. No person shall be permitted to keep a boarding- 
house at the University until a hcense shall have been ob- 
tained from the Vice-Chancellor, which license shall be 
renewed annually. All such licenses may be revoked for 
cause at any time. 

Sec. 5. The keepers of all Ucensed boarding-houses shall 
be held responsible for the preservation of good order in their 
respective houses. 

Sec. 6. The licenses obtained by boarding-house keepers 
shall be posted in some conspicuous place within the house, 
for the inspection of all persons. 


The Hebdomadal Board shall have power to establish a 
gjTnnasium for athletic exercises, and any other school of a 
useful and refining influence, and to appoint the officers 


Section 1. Offenses against the statutes of the University 
shall be punished in such manner as shall hereafter be pre- 
scribed by the Board of Trustees. 

Sec. 2. Offenses against the laws of the land shall be left 
to the cognizance of the civil magistrate, if claimed by him, 
or may be subjected by the Hebdomadal Board to any of the 


punislimeuts permitted by the statutes, whether the civil 
magistrate has taken cognizance of them or not. 



There shall be an annual meeting of the Board of Trus- 
tees at the site of the University, on the second Monday in 
July in each and every year. 


In case of the removal of any officer of the University by 
the Board of Trustees before the termination of his pre- 
scribed tenure of office, he shall have no claim whatever for 
the proportion of salary appertaining to the unexpired term 
of such tenure. 


1800 TO 1801. 

A ferment of political excitement.— Letter to President Buchanan.— 
Pastoral letters. — Forms of prayer. — Secession of Louisiana. — Corre- 
spondence with Bishop Potter. — Position of the Church. — Diocesan work. 
— Incendiary outrage. — Burning the bishop's house. — Church con- 
vention at St. Francisville. — The Church and secession. — Address to 
the convention. — Report of the committee on the state of the Church. 

During tlie last year of Bishop Polk's work for tlie 
university, the South was in a ferment of political excite- 
ment. The presidential election of 1860 surpassed all 
previous elections in the magnitude of the interests 
involved, in the energy with which it was prosecuted, 
and in the anxiety Avitli which the issue of the contest 
was expected. Throughout the turmoil of that anxious 
time Bishop Polk, when lie was not occupied in his epis- 
copal \isitatious, was f[uietly engaged in studying the 
statutes, in consulting with architects and engineers, in 
])ersonally supervising the preparation of the domain at 
St'wauee, in meetings of the trustees, in convspondence 
witii eminent educators, and finally, on tlie very eve of 
election, in laying the cornerstone of the first permanent 
Ituildiug of the university. Nothing could more effect- 
ually disprove the assertion that he Mas one of those 
who were said to be plotting for a dissolution of the 
Union than the simple record of his occupations during 



the full year wliit-li preceded tlie eleelion of 18G0. No 
man of common reason could have applied himself with 
such unremitting' patience and such unwearying energy 
to a work which revolution must disturb and perhaps 
destroy, if he had been, at the same time, plotting or 
even expecting revolution. 

The questions before a man in the position of Bishop 
Polk were these : Whether the unconditional secession 
of the Southern States was really an imminent event, 
and whether they would maintain their right of secession 
by force of arms in case of such necessity. The facts 
around him left no room for doubt on either of these 
questions. Within a very short time after the election 
no man who knew the southern people as he knew them 
could mistake the signs of the times. The only thing to 
be determined was whether the States lately united, and 
still in form united, were to be arrayed against each other 
in an internecine war. He feared that an erroneous 
judgment, founded on misinformation, might induce the 
Federal administration to take certain steps which would 
precipitate a conflict. He knew tliat he had exception- 
ally adequate opportunities for ascertaining the temper 
and purpose of the people of his section, and that any 
statement of them which he might make would be en- 
titled to receive, and would receive, the most serious at- 
tention. Accordingly, he addressed the following letter 
to tlie President of the United States : 

New Orleans, December 26, 1860. 
To His Excellency, James Buchanan, President, etc. : 

At a time like this it is the duty of every citizen to aid iu 
clearing away the difficulties by which Ave are surrounded, and 
to prevent, if possible, further complications. It is under a 
sense of duty that I take the liberty of addressing you. Of 
your integrity of purpose or patriotic devotion to what you 


regard as the true interests of the country, I have not a doubt, 
nor have I any doubt of your firmness of intention to dis- 
charge your duty as a man in public office in the existing 
emergency ; yet I liave not been without fear that the want 
of accurate and I'eHable information as to tlie true state of 
feeling and determination of the southern States might cause 
you to interpret yoiu' obligations to your oath of office differ- 
ently from what you would if you were in full possession of 
the facts as they are. Doubtless you are required to enforce 
the laws ; but assuredly no sane man will say " without re- 
gard to consequences." That Avould be madness. A right to 
exercise a sound discretion necessarily accompanied the im- 
position and the acceptance of the oath of office. Such must 
be the judgment of our Christian ci\'ilization. And to assume 
the responsibility of exercising that right when such issues as 
those with which you are called to deal are impending, as it 
is the most trjong ordeal to which any chief magistrate of our 
repubhe has ever been subjected, involves the highest exercise 
of coiu'ageous independence and the most discriminating and 
considerate regai-d to the duties of your own position and the 
best interests of those whose destinies are in your hands. 

My position and opportunities give me the amplest facilities 
for knowing the actual state of mind of the people of Louisi- 
ana and of the sun*ounding southern States, and I write to 
say that I am thoroughly convinced that they have deUberately 
and inflexibly resolved to cut themselves off from the Union. 
This feehng is deepening and widening eveiy day, and no 
difference exists except as to the mode of effecting it. To 
attempt to prevent it by force of arms would instantlj' ex- 
tinguish that difference and unite the whole population as one 
man. State boundaries would be forgotten in a sense of 
common danger ; the cause of one would become the cause of 
all ; a conflict would be inaugurated to end only after the most 
i-uthless carnage had desolated the land, and freedom perhaps 
had been extinguished under the trial of a militarj' despotism. 
Such an issue the people of the South would gladly decline. 
It is with you, dear sir, mainly to say whether it shall be forced 
upon them. But whatever the determination of the national 


Executive may be, they have resolved to accept that deter- 
mination, to plant themselves on what they hold to be their 
rights, and to resist all efforts to infringe them, come from 
whence they may. We believe it is practicable for the two 
parties to separate peacefully ; this we most earnestly desire. 
The difficulty of your position we fully appreciate, and every 
effort will be made to disembarrass it as much as possible. 
We cannot see that, with the views you have expressed and 
the course you have already pursued, any issue ought to arise 
which could not be peaceably disposed of, and we trust that 
the spirit of moderation which has thus far characterized your 
policy in the existing emei'gency may be continued until our 
difficulties have been finally and amicably terminated. 

I have not a doubt that Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Missis- 
sippi, and Louisiana will all have followed the example of 
South Carolina, and will be out of the Union b,y the 1st of 
February; that they will have formed a separate govern- 
ment by the 1st of INIarch ; and that the other southern States 
will sooner or later all join them. Nor do I believe that in 
that event there will be the remotest prospect for the re- 
union of the two sections so long as slave labor shall prove 
advantageously applicable to the agi'icultui-al wants of the 
Southern Confederacy. 

With my earnest prayer that you may have grace and 
strength given yoii to support you in the discharge of the 
duties of your trying position, and that you may decide wisely 
for yourself, your countrymen, and the best interests of man- 
kind, I remain. 

Respectfully youi- obedient servant, 

Leonid AS Polk. 

Beyond tliis effort to avert a danger wliieli lie saw 
more clearly than most other men, I do not find that 
Bishop Polk did more, before the adoption of the ordi- 
nance of secession by the convention of the State of Lou- 
isiana, than observe the conrse of events and consider 
what his dnty as a bishop niio'ht recpiire of him in view 


of facts as they occurred. That he was in full sympathy 
witli the feeling's of his people there is no question, and 
there is as Httle question tluit he believed the southern 
States to liave the constitutional right to take the step 
on which they were resolved. He had not a particle 
of doubt that an ordinance of secession adopted by a 
sovereign State would be as valid as the act by which 
the same State had entered the Federal Union ; and con- 
cerning the personal aUegiance of the citizen, he lield, 
as he had been taught at the national military acad- 
emy at West Point, that it is due first to the State, and 
only secondarily, through the State, to the Federal Gov- 
ernment, in such matters and for such purposes as the 
States have declared by the express provisions of the 

In the light of these principles, which he held to be 
merely axiomatic, the course of the Church in any State 
which might adopt an ordinance of secession seemed to 
him to be clear. With the expediency or inexpediency 
of secession the Church had no concern ; in the agita- 
tions which might bring aljout secession she could have 
no part ; but if secession should become a fact, it would 
be a fact in which the Church must acquiesce and of 
which she nuist accept the ecclesiastical consequences. 
Moreover, the action of the Church in any matter which 
the course of events might require her to decide ought 
to be so prompt and unequivocal as to leave no room 
for doubt either of her principles of action or of the 
l)osition of her members and officers. In his office as a 
bishop of the Church, he held himself bound to be gov- 
erned by these principles, but he made no distinction 
between his official actions as a bishop and his personal 
conduct as a man. What it was not right or seemly for 
a bishop to do it could not be expedient for Leonidas 

iEt. 54] VliAYER FOR FAST DAY. 2G7 

Polk to do on any ground of personal liberty or natu- 
ral independence. When one remembers his generous 
warmth of temperament, his entire sympathy with the 
feelings of his people, and his hatred of disingenuous 
reserve, his self-control at this time commands not only 
aj)probation but admiration ; for it does not appear that 
he contributed so much as the influence of a word to the 
forces which were precipitating the dissolution of the 
Union. Never in his life did he hold himself more thor- 
oughly in hand than at that time, when thousands of 
the ablest men in the country seemed to have abdicated 
reason and to be swayed only by passion. 

On the 28th of December, 18C0, the President of the 
United States issued a proclamation, inviting the people 
of the whole nation to unite in the observance of a day 
of fasting, humiliation, and praj'cr, in view of the polit- 
ical differences then agitating the Union ; and on the 
following day the bishop addressed a brief jjastoral letter 
to the clergy and laity of his diocese, setting forth a form 
of prayer to be used on the occasion : 


The clergy of the diocese of Louisiana requested to use 
the following prayer on the day appointed by the President 
of the United States as a day of fasting, humiliation, and 
prayer, and at such other times as may seem advisable during 
the existing emergency. 

Leoxidas Polk, 
Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana. 
New Orleans, December 29, 1860. 


Almighty God, the Fountain of all wisdom and the Helper 
of all who call upon thee, we thy unworthy servants, under 
a deep sense of the difficulties and dangers by which we are 


now surrounded, turn our liearts to thee in earnest supplica- 
tion and prayer. We humble ourselves before thee; we con- 
fess that as a nation and as individuals we have grievously 
offended tliee, and that our sins have justly provoked thy 
^^Tath and indignation against us. Deal not with us, Lord, 
according to our iniquities, but according to thy great 
and tender mercies, and forgive us all that is past. Tm-n 
thine anger from us, and visit us not with those evils which 
we have justly deserved. Guide and direct us in all our 
consultations ; save us from all ignorance, — eiTor, pride, and 
prejudice ; and if it please thee, compose and heal the divi- 
sions which disturl) us ; or else, if, in thy good providence, 
it be otherwise appointed, gi'ant, we beseech thee, that the 
spirit of wisdom and moderation may preside over our coun- 
cils, that the just rights of all may be maintained and ac- 
corded, and that the blessings of peace may be preserved to 
us and our children throughout all generations. All which 
we ask through the merits and mediation of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. 

On tlie 26th of Januarv', 1861, the convention of the 
State of Louisiana passed an ordinance of secession, 
withdrawing from the Union, and a few days later, on 
January 30, 1861, the bishop addressed a second pastoral 
letter to his diocese : 


To tJie Clergy and Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the 
Diocese of Louisiana : 

My beloved Brethren: The State of Louisiana, having, by a 
formal ordinance, through her delegates in convention assem- 
bled, withdrawn herself fi'om all fui'ther connection with the 
United States of America, and constituted herself a separate 
sovereignty, has, by that act, removed our diocese from the 
pale of the " Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States.'' 
We have, therefore, an independent diocesan existence. 

Of the circumstances which have occasioned this act, it 


may not be necessary now to speak. They are familiar to 
you all. It is, however, our happiness to know that in can- 
vassing the sum of the political grievances of which we have 
complained, we find no contribution made to it by brethren 
of our own household. Our Chiu-ch in the non-slavehold- 
ing States, as everywhere, has been loyal to the Constitution 
and the laws. Her sound conservative teaching and her well- 
ordered organization have held her steadily to her proper 
work, and she has confined herself shnply to preaching and 
teaching the gospel of Christ. Surrounded by a strong pres- 
sure on every side, she has successfully resisted its power, 
and has refused to lend the aid of her conventions, her pul- 
pits, and her presses to the radical and unscriptural propa- 
gandism which has so degraded Christianity and has plunged 
our country into its unhappy condition. 

In withdrawing ourselves, therefore, from all political con- 
nection with the Union to which our brethi-en belong, we do 
so with hearts filled with sorrow at the prospect of its forcing 
a termination of our ecclesiastical connection with them also, 
and that we shall be separated from those whose intelligence, 
patriotism, Christian integrity and piety we have long known, 
and for whom we entertain sincere respect and affection. 
Unfortunately the class they represent was numerically too 
small to control their section. They have been overborne 
and silenced, and a different description of mind and charac- 
ter is in the ascendant. The principles and purposes of this 
party have long been the subject of carefid observation by 
the people of the southern States, and they have watched its 
rise and progi-ess with anxious solicitude. They thought 
they saw in it the seeds of all the evil from which our country 
is now suffering, and have not failed to employ all the re- 
sources at their command to avert it. Their efforts have 
been fruitless, and they have seen no way of escape from the 
consequences to themselves and their posterity other than 
that which they have taken. Of the justice of our cause we 
have no doubt. Of the wisdom of the measures which we 
have adopted to maintain it, we may judge from the charac- 
ters of the men who are engaged in supporting tlicm. With 


here and there an exception, tliey represent tlie intelligence, 
the character, and the wealth of the State. We have taken 
our stand, we humbly trust, in the fear of God and under a 
sense of the duty which Ave owe to mankind. 

Our separation tVoni the brethren of the "Protestant Epis- 
copal Church in the United States " has been effected because 
we must follow our nationality ; not because there has been 
any difference of opinion as to Christian doctrine or catholic 
usage. Upon these points we are still one. With us it is a 
separation, not division ; certainly not alienation. And there 
is no reason why, if we should And the union of our dioceses 
under one national Chui'ch impracticable, we should cease to 
feel for each other the respect and regard with which purity 
of manners, high principle, and a manly devotion to tnith 
never fail to inspire generous minds. Our relations to each 
other hereafter will be the relations we both now hold to the 
men of our mother-church of England. 

But the time has not arrived for entering fully into the dis- 
cussions of the questions suggested by this occasion, and I 
have so far remarked upon them because some notice of our 
relations to the national church from which we have separated 
seemed called for by the event, and because of the necessity 
which that event creates for certain alterations in the serAaces 
of our Book of Common Prayer. 

In pursuance of this necessity and under the authority of 
my office, I appoint for the present the following changes, 
and request my brethren of the clergy to oljserve them on all 
occasions of public worship : 

In the Prayer for Congress, for the words, " the people of 
these United States in general, and especially for their sena- 
tors and representatives in Congress assembled," substitute 
the words, "the people of this State in general, and especially 
their Legislature, now in session." 

In the Prayer for those in CiWl Authority, for the words, 
"the President of the United States," use the words, "the 
Governor of this State." 

I also appoint the following prayer to be used during the 
session of the convention of this State, and during the ses- 


sion of the convention of such other States as have withdrawn 
from the late Federal Union and propose to join Louisiana in 
the formation of a separate government. 
I remain, very truly, 

Your obedient servant in Christ, 
Leonidas Polk, 
Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church 
in the Diocese of Louisiana. 
New Orleans, January 30, 1861. 


Almighty God, the sovereign Ruler of the Universe, whose 
never-failing providence ordereth all things in heaven and 
earth, we thy unworthy servants commend to thy special 
protection the convention of this State i now in session. 
Impress them with a deep sense of the responsibility with 
which tliey are charged. Grant unto them the spirit of wis- 
dom and moderation, the spirit of knowledge and of a sound 
mind, and fill them, Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear. 
Preserve them from the delusions of pride and vainglory. 
Deliver them from the temptation to aim at other ends than 
tliose which promote thy glory and the best interests of their 
country. Save them from the fear or favor of men. Make 
plain their way before them, and strengthen their hearts that 
they may pursue it with firmness even to the end. And grant, 
Lord, that through their labors and under the guidance of 
thy good Spirit, all things may be so settled that we may be 
protected from all injustice, that our rights may be amply se- 
cured, and that the course of this world may be so peaceably 
ordered by thy governance that we may joyfully serve thee 
in all godly quietness. All which we ask through the merits 
and mediation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. 

' Should the convention of those States which have withdrawn from 
the Union be in session at the same time, introduce here the words, 
" and the convention of southern States." If either convention should 
adjourn, the other being in session, the language used will be altered 
accord in irl v. 


Within tliree weeks after the sendiiij^ out of this pas- 
toral the Southern Confederacy had been formed. Into 
this Confederacy Louisiana entered. The bishop accord- 
ing-ly, on Fel)ruary 20, 1861, issued a third pastoral: 

To the Clergy of the Diocese of Louisiana: The progress of 
affairs makes it expedient to direct further changes in the 
public services of the Chvu'ch. 

In the Prayer for those in Civil Authority, for the words, 
" the President of the United States," sul)stitute the words, 
"the President of the Confederate States." 

In the special prayer set forth in my letter of the 30th ult., 
for the words, "and the Convention of Southern States," 
substitute the words, " and the Congi-ess of the Confederate 

The Prayer for the Legislature, as ah'eady indicated, will 
be continued during its sessions. 
I remain, very tridy, 

Your servant in Christ, 

Leonidas Polk, 
Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana. 
New Orleans, February 20, 1861. 

Between the 26th of January, on which the State of 
Louisiana seceded from the LTnion, and the inauguration 
of the Confederate Government at Montgomery, less 
than one short month had elapsed ; and during the suc- 
cessive changes which followed one another with such 
startling rapidity. Bishop Polk had little opportunity to 
consult with his brethren of the episcopate. It is 
doubtful, however, whether he would have felt disposed 
to divide the responsibility of his official acts even with 
his most confidential friends. A fortnight before the 
secession of Louisiana Bishop Atkinson of North Caro- 
lina had written him, expressing his opinion that the 
bishops of the States which were likely to secede should 


meet for conference, in order to decide upon some com- 
mon course of action in the novel circumstances in 
which they were apparently about to be x)laced. It was 
difficult, however, for such a meeting- to be held. At 
such a time no bishop would willingly be al)sent from his 
diocese ; and there were some of the southern bishops 
who held that propriety forbade them to engage in a 
movement which might be construed as a political dem- 
onstration made under cover of an ecclesiastical confer- 
ence. Until secession had actually taken place, it was 
rightly felt that they ouglit not to take any action which 
could be so construed even by the most unscrupulous 
malice. But beyond all considerations of that kind, 
Bishop Polk seems to have felt that the condition of 
affairs was one which could not have been foreseen, and 
therefore had in no way been provided for by any ex- 
press action of the Church, and consequently that the 
duty of the bishops m the premises must be decided 
on general principles. Of those principles he himself 
had no doubt ; but that the same principles would be 
accepted by all the brethren was extremely doubtful. 
He was not prepared to surrender one jot of what he 
believed to be his duty either to the Church or to the 
State of which he was a citizen, and he had no desire to 
share the responsiljility of his official acts with other 
men who might be less fully convinced of its imperative 
obligation. Therefore his preference, as well as the 
necessity of the occasion, moved him to act for himself 
alone. H(; was keenly sensitive to the opinion of men 
in whom he had confidence ; as little as any other man 
did he desire to gratify self-will or to constrain his 
brethren to sustain him in a course of the propriety of 
which they were not convinced. But in the sight of 
God, of the Church, and of the State, he held that lie 


was called to take the responsibility of deciding the 
course of himself and his diocese ; and he chose to bear 
his own burden, without involving any others, whether 
willingly or unwillingly, in the consequences of his acts. 
It was not without heartljreak that he contemplated the 
separation, which he deemed inevitable, from many of 
his old friends and companions of the North, whom he 
fully acquitted of all blame for the unhappy condition 
of the country. In one way or another it was impossi- 
ble for him to refrain from expressing his affection for 
them ; but not even in letters written under the impulse 
of the warmest affection could he fail to declare his con- 
viction of the true state of affairs in the present and in 
the fast-hastening f utiu'e. Of his correspondence at this 
time two letters have fortunately been preserved. They 
are equally honorable to him and to the honored and 
beloved Bishop of New York, who was his correspondent. 
Though they are not essential to the continuity of the 
story, they are here inserted. 

Bishop Polk to Bishop Potter. 

New Orleans, January 29, 1861. 
Bight Beverend and dear Brother: You will have heard by 
telegraph before this reaches you that Louisiana has seceded 
from the Union. The act was perfected, so far as her inter- 
vention Was concerned, on Saturday last. Of the course of 
those States that have preceded her, you will have been in- 
formed. To the hearts of all good men such events cannot 
but carry soitow, as evidences of the overthrow of the most 
magTiificent government structure the world ever saw. As 
to the causes which have produced tliis, it is useless to refer 
now. It is done, and it is of the greatest importance to us 
all that it should be understood. From what we see it is 
plain that this movement of the southern States is not ap- 
preciated at the Nortli. Nothing was ever more deliberate, 


uothiug in all its bearings on the future more closely studied 
or more calmly considered. The door of compromise, so far 
as the States which have seceded are concerned, is closed ; 
and they will organize themselves into a separate nationahty 
at Montgomery, through their proper representatives, next 
week. The only question now is, whether this shall be done 
peaceably with the consent of the States from which we have 
separated, or whether an attempt to prevent it will be made 
by an appeal to arms. The right to secede under the Con- 
stitution it is not necessary to argue. It is asserted in such 
forms as I have indicated, and it has been done with all 
the possible consequences in full view, and under what the 
parties regard as the highest duty to themselves and all those 
with whom they stand connected. It is not to be believed 
that such a position, taken under such cu-cumstances, is one 
which woidd be relinquished until all power to maintain it 
had been exhausted. All this devolves upon fellow-country- 
men of the North the responsibility of determining whether 
the interests of humanity demand the maintenance of the 
General Government at such a sacrifice of treasure and life 
as must follow an attempt, by force of arms, to prevent a 
separation. I cannot believe that they are prepared for this. 
If it were a mere local discontent by a few only, whatever 
might be thought of the right of the parties, there might be 
a show of reasonableness in disposing of it in such a way. 
But this movement has now assumed gigantic proportions, 
and in ease of war would involve inevitably one half of the 
nation in conflict with the other. Are we prepared for this? 
What could compensate us for such a war? I cannot but 
think and hope that the good sense and Christian feeling of 
the North will prevail over passion and pride, and that we 
shall be saved from such a disaster and be permitted to go 
in peace. It is our very great happiness to know that the 
Church has stood Ann, throughout all this contest, to her 
duty to the Constitution and the laws, and that she has not 
conti'ibuted in the very least to the causes which have 
brought these mischiefs upon us. So far as I know, this is 
felt and confessed throughout the South, and by all parties. 

27G BlSIKjr J'O'I'JKJrs UK PLY. [ISfil 

(,)nv affection foi' our brcllivcii in llie North lias not liocn 
shaken, therefore, in the least, and we earnestly trust that 
there will be no reason why it should be. If we must sepa- 
rate, it must be to follow our nationality, and not because we 
have differed on any point of Christian doctrine or religious 
duty, and there will be no reason why we should not con- 
tinue to love each other afterward as we both now love the 
men of the Chnrcli of England. 

T remain, very truly, 

Yours in Christ and his Church, 

Leoxidas Polk. 
Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter, 
New York. 

Bishop Potter to BMiop Polk. 

New York, 33 West 24th Street, 

Februai-y 12, 1S61. 

My dear Bishop: I thank you heartily for your kind note. 
I am deeply gratefvd for every token of fraternal regard from 
your section of this unhappy country. It needs that one 
should have been abroad this last summer, as I have been, in 
order to feel how deplorably we are fallen. When I observe 
how much everything in this quarter goes on as usual, — the 
same nish in the streets, the same gay, busy throng, driving, 
visiting, dinners and parties, — I iind it difficult to believe that 
we are indeed in the midst of a revolution. I am afraid that 
very few of us. North or South, have any ade(|uate idea of 
what is before us in ease of final separation. 

Of one thing T am thoroughly convinced, and that is, that 
the mass of the peoi)le are letter than the politicians that 
rule them, and they will one day make it ajiparent. 1 preached 
on our national fast day, reluct:intly, and as I wrote, saying 
severe things 1o the North, T thouglit that to escape Avith a 
whole skin would be the most I could hope for. On the con- 
trary, the whole congregation rose up and asked for my ser- 
mon with strong expressions of approval. I preached my 
sermon again, reluctantly, in another large congregation, and 
ihcv did the same thing. I preached it to a country congre- 


gation, and the twenty clergy present earnestly asked for it, 
apparently Avithoiit a dissenting voice. So much for the ill- 
feeling at the North toward the South ! This is bat one of 
hundreds of indications of northern sentiments. With regard 
to the questions of peace or war, we are in the hands of God. 
If nothing can heal this breach, I, for one, most earnestly hope 
that we may separate, if such a thing be possible, peaceably. 
Whether you can hope that the northwest will ever consent 
that the mouth of the Mississippi River shall be in the hands 
of a foreign power, you ought to be better able than I am to 
judge. I confess I think it very unlikely. It seems to me no 
very encouraging omen that the Abolitionists of the North are 
mad with delight at the prospect of disunion. The tone of 
Tennessee, and Virginia, and Kentucky, and Maryland, and 
North Carolina even, seems to me to afford some ground of 
hope that we may yet find some basis for agreement. It has 
done for the northern mind what threats and secession could 
not do. It has made the Nortli willing to try to harmonize. 

Most warmly do I reciprocate all that you say of your feel- 
ing toward brethren at the North. Our feeling toward you 
and your brethren (and we love much, though we may have 
said little) is not in the least changed. Otey, Green, yourself, 
Elliott, Davis, etc., — no men in the Church are more admired 
and loved at the North. We would do anything for you in 
the Church; and let a foreign power lay but its little finger 
upon you in hostility, and you shall see that we are ready to 
do anything for you in your civil capacity. God most merci- 
ful, guide, preserve, and bless you. 

Believe me to be, my dear Bishop Polk, 

Ever most affectionately yours, 

H. Potter. 

To THE Rt. Rev. Leonidas Polk. 

If tlie g'racious and manl}^ gentleness of Bishop Potter 
is an ornament to tlie northern Church, the reluctance 
with whicli the southern bishops admitted the principles 
set forth by tlieir brother of Louisiana is not less hon- 
orable to them. Of the criticisms of tlic iiastorals of 


Bishop Polk Avliicli appeared in the northern Chm'ch 
press, with one exception, it is needless to speak; in- 
deed, they were unworthy of consideration ; but the 
editor of the Church Journal, the late Dr. John Henry 
Hopkins, had the learning to detect a flaw in the bish- 
op's argument, and the capacity to discuss it like a 
scholar and a gentleman. He took exception to the 
bishop's declaration that a diocese could, by any means, 
and particularly by the action of the ci\il power, be 
placed in a position of diocesan independence, and this 
criticism was undoubtedly eoiTCct. Under no system 
known to the cathoHc Church can any diocese have a 
permanently independent existence. In one generation 
the succession must necessarily fail without the inter- 
vention of other dioceses, and during that one genera- 
tion all discipline would be impossible. 

On this point there can be no dispute on the part of 
any person who believes in the catholic constitution of 
the Church. It may therefore be at once confessed that 
the language of the bishop's pastoral of January 30, 
18G0, was not sufficiently guarded. Wlien he said that 
by the secession of the State of Louisiana the diocese of 
Louisiana had been removed " from within tlie pale of 
the Protestant Episcopal Chui'ch in the United States," 
the truth of the assertion depended upon two questions : 
first, whether the ordinance of secession adopted by the 
convention of the State of Louisiana was an effectual 
act — a question which was only determined by the arbit- 
rament of war ; and second, whether the constitution of 
the catholic Church in general, or of the Church in this 
country in particular, of necessity involved the separa- 
tion of the diocese from the national ecclesiastical organ- 
ization, as a consequence of an actual secession of the 
States from the national Union of States, The first was 


a question of fact, the second was a cjuestiou of law. 
But, however the fact or the law might be, no fact in 
the history of any country, and no law of any provincial 
or national Church, could have the effect of remitting a 
diocese of the catholic Church to a position which would 
be a contradiction of the first principles of all catholic 

If Bishop Polk had intended to maintain any such 
doctrine he would have been on the verge of schism. 
But Bishop Polk meant nothing of the kind. The word 
Independence (which he used) was unfortunate. Isola- 
tion would have better expressed his real meaning. He 
held the secession of the State to be, in right and in fact, 
an effectual act, and he held that the Church in the 
United States was, by its own written constitution, so 
organized as a national Chnrch that the dioceses belong- 
ing to it must of necessity be within the geographical 
boundaries of the United States. It followed that if 
the State of Louisiana had been in fact, as he believed, 
removed from within those boundaries, the diocese must 
likewise have been ''removed from the pale of the Church 
in the United States." His view was supported by the 
whole Anglican doctrine of national churches, and cer- 
tainly by the precedent of the origin of the Church in 
the United States, in w^hich it had been assumed from 
the first that the separation of the colonies from the 
mother country " of necessity " involved the separate 
organization of a national Church in this country. 

Nothing on this subject could be clearer than the gen- 
eral principle enunciated and applied in the preface to 
our own Book of Common Prayer, which declares that 
"when in the course of divine Providence these Amer- 
ican States became independent with respect to civil 
government, their ecclesiastical independence was necea- 


sarily iii(;luded " ; and this uotwithstaudiiig the fact that 
they were under the spiritual jurisdiction of a lawful 
bishop, the Bishop of London. By the se})aration of the 
colonies from the mother country, the Church in Amer- 
ica held that the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London, 
he being a bishop of a foi-eign country, was, ipso facto, 
vacated. If it were true, as Bishop Polk certainly be- 
lieved, that the seceding States were in fact separated 
from the United States, it followed that the dioceses of 
those States could be no longer under the jurisdiction 
of a Church which had become to them a foreign Church. 
For the moment, therefore, the diocese of Louisiana had 
been removed from its association with the national 
Church with which it had been united, and for that' 
moment no otlier union with other dioceses was possi- 
ble. For that moment, therefore, it was in a position of 
isolation imposed upon it by facts over which it had no 
control. It was in a position in which it was not possi- 
l)le to remain and in which it did not desire to remain, 
])ut from which it had just tlien no power to escape. 

That position Bishop Polk somewhat unhappily des- 
ignated as a position of diocesan independency. As 
is usual in such cases, the controversy between men of 
right principles was a controversy concerning words. 
The facts were decided l)y a tribunal in which the Chiu-ch 
liad no voice. Respect for the temperate and courteous 
.•vnimadversions of the editor of the Church Journal re- 
(juires thus much explanation ; that they received Bishoj) 
Polk's very respectful consideration will appear later 
<m in the tiction of the <'onvention of the diocese of 

From the representatives of the Church in the north- 
(M-n States Bishop Polk A\'as prepared to expect adverse 
criticism, but he was not prepared for the strong remon- 


strances which were sent to liiiii by .southern bishops. 
It would be easy to dispose of them by saying- that the 
arguments of those gentlemen were set aside by their 
conduct, since every one of them, not long afterward, 
virtually assumed the same position and followed the 
same course which Bishop Polk had pursued in Louisi- 
ana. But if the course of Bishop Polk was in fact the 
right course, and if the timely adoption of that course 
with its necessary consequences placed the southern 
Church in a way of present safety which at last led t<> 
the happy reunion of our whole national communion, 
the objections which were alleged against it ought not 
to be lightly disnussed. Those objections were raised, 
not by enemies, but l)y friends and brothers whom he 
loved and trusted. Otey of Tennessee and Lay of 
Arkansas wrote in terms of love and i^ain which were a 
joy and a grief to him. Their points were that he had 
adopted a principle of sheer Erastianism, and, what was 
still more painful, that he had not been duly faithful to 
his vow of consecration as a bishop, which bound him 
to obedience to the '' discipline and w^orship of the Prot- 
estant Episcopal Church in the United States." 

The charge of Erastianism is so feel)le, when consid- 
ei'ed on its merits and when we remember the acumen 
of the men who jn-eferred it, that it must have repre- 
sented rather their reluctance to admit the conclusions 
at which Bisho}) Polk had arrived than a conviction of 
his error. No man was ever more jealous than he of 
the rights and dignities of the Chm-cli in the face of any 
authority short of that of his Master. But he held that 
the Church itself, in order to avoid conflict with tiie 
civil power, had fr(»ely chosen so to constitute iti-elf as 
to entail certain results on civil action of which he was 
not the arbiter, but merciv the observer. His vow of 


consecration he felt that he was bound to interpret in 
its relation to the cu-cumstances in which he fonnd him- 
self unexpectedly placed. In ordinary circumstances 
the vow was absolute ; but the circumstances in which 
he actuall}' found hunself had not been contemplated 
when that vow was proposed and accepted. The pur- 
pose of the vow had therefore to be considered. Its 
intention was to maintain unity among the members of 
a national Church, and that intention was subordinate 
and subsidiary to the paramount purposes for which the 
Church exists. In the providence of God, as he believed, 
the national unity had been destroyed, consequently 
the union of the dioceses of the national Church had 
lapsed ; but the purposes of the existence of the Church 
had not lapsed, and could not lapse. It behoved him, 
therefore, as a cathohc bishop, to carry out the catholic 
purpose of his office, notwithstandmg any lapse of the 
particular organization with which he had been con- 
nected ; and in so doing he knew that he was not only 
following the safe rule of catholic precedent, but also 
following out the declared principles of the Church, 
which had demanded and received his vow of consecra- 
tion. Firmly adhering to these convictions, he met the 
expostulations of men like Otey and Lay vnth a direct 
and simple plainness of sincerity which was worthy of 
all concerned, and in the end the southern bishops, 
without one single exception, followed the course of 
Polk, however they might continue, in pastoral and 
other pronuneiamentos, to controvert his arguments or 
to debate his theoretical positious. 

At the North, however. ;in iiii])rcssioii prevailed that 
the bishop desh-ed to put an tnid to the cooperation of 
the two sections of the Church in the department of 
Foreign and Domestic Missions. Nothing could have 


been further from his intention. He had contented him- 
self with declarincf wliat he believed to be the actual and 
constitutional status of his diocese, and he had given no 
intimation either of an opinion or of a desire that the 
former cooperation of the northern and the southern 
sections of the Church should be discontinued. Accord- 
ingly, to meet this unforeseen and causeless apprehen- 
sion, he issued his pastoral of March 28, 1861, as foUows : 

Brethren of the Clergy and Laity: I have been informed that, 
since the publication of my pastoral letter of the 30th Jan- 
uary, some embarrassment has arisen in certain minds as to 
the disposition of such funds as have been usually raised 
for foreign and domestic missions. 

The object of that letter was to declare the theoretical 
status of our diocese, consequent upon the change of our 
nationality, by the separation of Louisiana from the United 
States of America, and to submit that status as my authority, 
in the face of my " promise of conformity" to the " discipline 
and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United 
States of America," for directing such changes in the Book of 
Common Prayer as a paramount expediency and the law of 
Christ himself in such case demanded. It concluded nothing 
beyond. It nevertheless looked farther. It contemplated the 
merging of our State nationality, perfect and complete in 
itself, into that of a confederation "to be composed of such 
other States as have withdrawn from the late Federal Union," 
and so of our diocese into a union with the dioceses in those 
States under a common constitution. Nay, more, it did not 
undertake to decide whether a union of the dioceses withiu 
the seceded States with those in the United States from which 
they were thus separated would, under any form, be " im- 
practicable." It only indicated the relations which would 
subsist between them in case such a imion should not be 
found feasible. It took the ground that, from the terms and 
conditions of the Book of Common Prayer, and of the con- 
stitution and canons of tho Protestant Episcopal Church in 


the United States of America, and from the necessities of the 
case, a separation of the dioceses in the seceding States was 
forced from the cUoceses of the United States. It drew a dis- 
tinction between union in k^gislation, whether constitutional 
or canonical, and unity in Christian doctrine and catholic 
usage. The former is national, and therefore local, and is 
subject properly to such changes as the law of expediency or 
of necessity may demand. The latter is universal, and beyond 
the reach of all changes in pohtical government, and is that 
in which consists the essence of the oneness of the body of 

A change in church union, therefore, does not necessarily 
involve a breach of church unity, " The liberty wherewith 
Clirist has made us free " may allow us, without offense, to 
accept a status which necessity, not to say the providence 
of God, has forced upon us, provided the doctrine of his 
church and the order of its administrations in all of those 
things which are vital be left unimpaired. 

The confederation of these States, which at the date of that 
letter was a foreshadowed event, has now become a reality. 
The orgaiiization of the new government has been completed 
and a permanent constitution adopted. Time lias not allowed 
us as yet opportunity to consult with our sister dioceses as to 
the proper course to be pursued, either with reference to a 
separate organization or the relations which it may be prac- 
ticable to establish Avith our sister dioceses in the United 

I cannot doubt, however, that some plan will be adopted 
by Avhich the dioceses of the Confederate States will be 
brought into a practical union, and I do not now see why 
some basis of connection may not be agreed upon, by which 
our respective organizations, North and South, while left free 
in all those respects in wliich freedom is expedient, may con- 
tinue to act together in such things as are above the merely 
local, and in which greater efficiency would result from a union 
of our resources and our energies. 

These details, however, must be left to the development of 
tlie future. In the mean season, as our confidence in its 

.Et. 541 GliOWTH OF THE DIOCESE. 2£5 

largest measure in the Christian integrity, zeal, and judicious- 
ness of our brethren who have charge of the foreign and do- 
mestic missions of the Church is undiminished, I recommend 
that such funds as may have been, or may hereafter be, col- 
lected for these objects, be sent forward as heretofore. Such 
changes as may be convenient will be made as events pro- 
gress and as expediency may dictate. 
I remain, very truly, 

Your obedient servant in Christ, 
Leonidas Polk, 
Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church 
in the Diocese of Louisiana. 
New Orleans, March 28, 1861. 

It might be supposed that when the bishop was thus 
occupied with the vast interests of the university, 
pressed with the anxieties of j)ublic affairs, and engaged 
in what might almost be called a public controversy, 
the ordinary business of his diocesan work would be 
less vigorously prosecuted than in former years ; but it 
was not so. The record shows precisely the reverse. 
Polk was one of those men to whom the increase of 
labor seems to lend a new energy. The demands made 
upon him operated as a stimulus to his finely organized 
sanguine-nervous temperament, so that the more he was 
required to do the more easily he seemed to do it. The 
last year of his active exercise of the functions of the 
episcopate was the most happily prosperous and promis- 
ing of his whole life. In the scattered communities of 
Louisiana he saw in that one year no less than five new 
churches built, and two of them he had the pleasure of 
consecrating. At Bastrop he organiztnl a new and self- 
supporting congregation, and at Dallas, as the result of 
one vigorous effort, he organized a congregation, held 
an election of the vestrv. and secured the means for the 


erection of a church and the permanent support of a 
rector. At the annual Diocesan Convention of May, 
1S61, six new parishes were admitted. The number 
of communicants in the diocese was considerably in- 
creased. The confirmations were more than in any pre- 
vious year. The care of masters for then- servants 
showed an enlarged and enlightened interest in the 
spiritual welfare of the slaves which was most encourag- 
ing, so that at one place he confirmed ten, at another 
twenty-eight, at another thirty-one, and at another forty- 
three negroes. But, best of all, the impression he made 
l)y his force of character, his generous spirit, his mascu- 
line gentleness, his broad sympathies, his unremitting 
labors, and finally by his scheme of the university, had 
attracted to him, and through him to the Church, the 
affectionate respect of the whole people of his diocese. 
Wherever he went on his last ^'isitation he received a 
warm welcome from men of all ranks and of all reli- 
gious and political opinions; and as he records in his 
last report to his convention, he found the people in 
the northern parishes of the State everywhere looking 
kindly to the Chm'ch, and assuring him of theii* desire 
to have its services established among them. It is a 
happiness to all who loved him to know that this last 
year in which he was to be permitted to minister to his 
people in his exalted office, if it was a year of great per- 
plexity and constant anxiety, was yet perhaps the most 
encouraging and happy year of his episcopal life, and in 
almost every respect the most manifestly fn;itfiU. 

During Bishop Polk's last visitation, which continued 
from the beginning of February to the end of April, 
1861, his family had been placed at Sewanee, in a rude 
but comfortal)le cottage which he had built on the uni- 
versitv domain, and as the course of events made it from 


day to day more probable that the Federal Government 
would resist the secession of the southern States by 
force of arms, it was a comfort to him to believe that in 
their mountain retreat his wife and children would be 
in a place of quiet and security, whatever might betide. 
Two letters of his, wiitten toward the close of his visi- 
tation, give insight into his own state of mind and also 
into the general condition of the public mind of the 
South at that time. 

To Mrs. Folk. 

Trinity, De Soto, La., April 21, 1861. 
My dear Wife: Yoii see I aiu thus far on my way round 
my diocese. This is the day I appointed to be here. God 
has blessed me and enabled me to fill all my appointments. 
I have been to Shreveport, and have got through there. I am 
to preach here this morning at eleven o'clock, and this even- 
ing, at candle-light, in Mansfield, seventeen miles distant. I 
am, thank God, very well. I wrote to Meek and to Colonel 
Smith, withdra^ving him from the institute and directing him 
to repair to the mountain, and stay there until I come home. 
Now that the attack on Fort Sumter has taken place, I am 
satisfied that we shaU have war, and that we shall have occa- 
sion for the services of all the yoimg men of the South. I 
am also satisfied that Virginia must now come in, and that 
Smith's Corps wiU have to take the field. If so, I had rather 
Meek should be with such corps than some one of the many 
others with which he might have to be associated. Love to all. 
Very tenderly yours, 

Leonidas Polk. 

P. S. I go by way of jMoiiroc and Vicksburg to New Or- 
leans. Have just heard that Virginia has seceded. I am at 

the house of . They arc full of enthusiasm. 

Yours truly and lovinglv, 

' L. P. 


To Mrs. Folk. 

New Orleans, April 26, 1861. 

My beloved Wife: I am now at the stock-landing, on the 
steamer " Hodge," which is putting out cattle. I found, on 
my return to Shi-eveport, that I could not get to my appoint- 
ment at Minden because of a change of schedule in the stages, 
and so had to give it up. I came, therefore, to New Orleans 
in this boat. I am very weU, and had a good time to rest 
and sleep on the boat, so that I feel quite refreshed this 
morning. . . . 

The whole world is in arms, in the country and in the 
town. AU are agreed now. There are not two parties any 
more, and I am glad to see that we are at last to have the 
border States. Of the issue I have no doubt. As Tennessee 
is now aroused, you are, of course, in a very safe and secure 
place, and need have no apprehension. I have written to 
Meek to stay where he is. He is better there under Smith's 
command than he would be elsewhere. I suppose he has 
Aviitten to you. ... I have not time to add more. Love to 
the dear girls. 

Very truly and affectionately yours, 

Leonidas Polk. 

From tliese letters it is evideut that the bishop had 
ceased to chcj'ish the hope of peaceable secession which 
most other men at the South had entertained. As 
he had written to Bishop Potter, it was not possible 
for a good man to be otherwise than sorro\A'ful at such 
a ^vi-eck of " the most magnificent government stnicture 
the world ever saw." But since the war was now clearly 
inevitable, he regarded it ^^^th the fortitude of a soldier. 
He held it to be on the part of the South a war of sim- 
ple self-defense. He knew that no war can be waged 
witliout great suffering, but his West Point training had 
taught him to think of war not as a thing merely of 
butchery and rapine, but of fair fight in open field. It 


did not occur to him tli;it a conflict between Americans 
could exhibit itself in assaults upon defenseless women 
and children. Under any circumstances, he supposed 
that the most helpless portion of the human race would 
be unmolested ; and in their secure retreat at Sewanee, 
he thought that his family, if not " secure from wear's 
alarms," would surely be safe from its dangers. 

This confidence was destined to be shattered by a 
horrible siu'prise. On landing at New Orleans, the very 
day on which he had wi'itten to Mrs. Polk of his satis- 
faction in the assurance of her safety at Sewanee, he 
found letters from her telling him that her house had 
been burned over her head and over the heads of her 
family of unprotected daughters, in the dead of night, 
and manifestly by the hand of an incendiary. For a 
moment the shock nearly overpowered him. All the 
whole heart of the man and of the father swelled in 
mingled horror and disgust at the cowardly attempt 
to assassinate defenseless women. He never doubted 
that the outrage w^as prompted liy political animosity. 
From that day forward he considered the war against 
the South not so much as an international war of 
aggression and conquest, but rather as a war of spo- 
liation, incendiarism, outrage, and assassination, w^liich 
every man who recognized the first law of nature was 
bound in duty to resist with whatever powers of head 
or hand he had received. This impression was indefi- 
nitely strengthened by a letter which he received shortly 
afterward from a northern bishop, now dead, whom he 
had esteemed with great affection. On his countenance 
one might see from time to time the play of every best 
expression that belongs to human emotion ; after the 
reading of that letter it v/ore the sublimity of righteous 


Beyond all doubt the letter of Bishop helped 

to form the after-thoughts and to influeuce the after- 
course of Bishop Polk. It would be strange if it 
liad not done so. The reader will remember how he 
had clung to his belief in the influence of the Church 
to mollify the rising passions of the sections. Now 
that the fabric of the Union, as he believed, had 
been rent in twain and those who had been fellow- 
citizens were about to close in mortal strife, lie had still 
looked to the Church to mitigate the horrors of inevita- 
l)le war. And here there came to him a sanctimonious 
exhortation from one of the highest ministers of the 
Church itself, warning him of the punishment to be 
awarded to the wickedness of slavery — him to whom 
the institution of slavery had been a life-long burden ! 
— but breathing no syllable of condemnation against 
the assassins of women and children ! To Polk it 
seemed that the minds even of churchmen had indeed 
" given way," since the utmost atrocities of war — atroci- 
ties perpetrated before the war was well begun — could 
meet with at least the approbation to be inferred from 
the silence of a bishop. 

The following letter to Mrs. Polk was written by thi' 
bishop in the first shock of horror after hearing of the 


New Orleaxs, April 27, 1861. 
3Ij/ beloved Wife: I arrived from Shi-eveport yesterday, and 
found yoiu- letter of the loth, LilUe'.s of the 22d, SaUie's of the 
18th, and yours of the 23d. I have been so affected by your 
touching recital that I have been made sick at heart. Was 
there ever in all the world such a hellish proceeding'? To fire, 
the houses of two such utterly lonely and defenseless famihes, 
composed of women only, and in the dead of the night! The 
spirit of heU itself was never more esliibited; and that both 
houses were fired durinpr the same night and at the same 

^t. 55] THE BISHOP 'S DEMEANOE. 291 

moment perhaps, sucli a diabolical spirit and heart I never 
before heard of. How I should have liked to come upon the 
scoundrels when they were engaged in the act ! I am satisfied 
that it was the work of an incendiary, and that it was 
prompted by the spirit of Black Republican hate. I cannot 
but hope and beUeve that the parties will be discovered. It 
was only yesterday that I wrote you from the stock-landing 
and congratulated you on the very safe retreat from the 
agitations of the times and the country at large. How little 
do we know, and how little did I think you were then suffer- 
ing from having had your house burnt over your head, and 
that your life and the lives of our dear children had been put 
to peril by such villainy ! But God took care of you and saved 
you from the jaws of death. For this I hoj^e we shall never 
cease to be thankful and praise him. I thought no insurance 
had been effected, and was sui-prised to hear from Mr. Sloo, 
whom I met on the street, that it had been done. For this we 
are indebted, my beloved, thoughtful wife, to you ; and I most 
heartily thank God for putting it in your mind. The i^olicy of 
the insurance, I learned, was signed just before the ire, and 
the dispatch announcing the fire was received on the return 
of the agent from the post-oflice. Well, we ought to be thank- 
ful it is no worse. . . . Lbonidas Polk. 

Criielly .shocked as he liad been, it is not to be sup- 
posed that after the first sharp agony was over — and 
while it lasted it was nothing short of agony — the 
bishop wore his heart n2)on liis sleeve for daws to peck 
at. To all appearances he recovered very soon from all 
that, and nothing in his language or demeanor indicated 
the intensity of his feelings or the rapid growth of his 
convictions. To the outward eye he was ever the same ; 
in his public utterances he was wholly unchanged ; in 
private conversation he was still as debonair and gra- 
ciously attractive as before ; in his order of business he 
continued to follow the rule of his life, which was " to 
do the thing that lav next him," a'oino; on his ordinarv 


way without change of liis ordinary methods ; and yet 
there is reason to beheve, m view of all tliat followed, 
that it was then that he entered into the solitary mental 
struggle which resulted in his taking arms in defense 
of the Confederacy. Not that he had already formed 
the purpose of taking arms, or had even distinctly con- 
sidered it ; least of all that he had allowed himself to be 
controlled by any feeling of passion ; but that he. had 
been thoroughly impressed with the conviction that the 
impending war would be a war of moral issues, and that 
it would be waged in a manner so frightful that no man 
could tell what his duty as a man might require of him. 
However these foreboding questions might be event- 
ually answered, the one duty which lay next to him at 
that time was the du-ection of the affairs of his diocese. 
The annual convention was about to meet at St. Prancis- 
ville, and after all the agitations through which he had 
passed, he wrote his convention address in the same fii-ni 
but temperate tone in which his previous pastorals had 
been composed. The event of that convention had been 
a matter of some concern to him ; for in his own diocese, 
as elsewhere, the positions he had assumed with regard 
to the ecclesiastical effect of sec(^ssiou had been mis- 
understood by some and were admitted with reluctance 
by others. Especially among the clergy there was a 
desire to escape, if possible, from taking any positive 
action ; but the proposal of Polk and Elliott that there 
should be a conference of delegates fi-om the southern 
dioceses at Montgomery in the month of July could by 
no possibility he evaded. At one time the bishop would 
have been content that the convention should waive the 
merits of the subject and simply elect delegates to the 
proposed meeting. It was pointed out to him, however, 
that if the positions he had assumed were not really 


sound positions, the diocese ouglit not to give them an 
apparent support by an election which would be inter- 
preted as an indorsement of the grounds on which it 
had been recommended ; and, on the other hand, that if 
his positions were really well taken, he had a right to 
expect his diocese to sustain him boldly and unequivo- 
cally. It was therefore resolved that the subject of the 
bishop's pastorals should be brought forward on its 
merits, and that the sense of the convention should be 
taken concerning them. In point of fact, as the issue 
proved, there was no serious objection to the bishop's 
views when they were properly explained, and before 
the convention met much of the reluctance to acquiesce 
in them had been swept away by the course of public 

All that was needed, therefore, was that the status of 
the Church in consequence of secession should be set 
forth in ecclesiastical language and expounded on the 
common principles of canon law, English and American. 
Immediately after the opening services and organization 
of the convention, the bishop read his annual address.^ 
in which he confined himself to a statement of his offi- 
cial acts, followed by a masterly vindication of his action 
in ordering a change in the Prayer for the President of 
the United States, and a reiteration of the principles he 
had enunciated in his pastorals. He still, to the regret 
of some who were in perfect sympathy with him, con- 
tinued to use the inaccurate phrase of " diocesan inde- 
pendence." Indeed, he went apparently much further 
by declaring that " the normal condition of the dioceses 
of the catholic Church is that of separate independence," 
and that " a departure from that condition has ever been 

1 For extracts from Bishop Polk's address, see Appendix to Chap- 
ter VII. 


tlie fruit of expediency 011I3'." These expressions were 
unfortunate. It whs cousec^uently of the more impor- 
tance that the action of his di(jcesan convention should 
be clearly and accurately expressed. 

So much of the bishop's address as referred to the 
position of the diocese in consequence of secession was 
specially referred to the Committee on the State of the 
Churcli, and the committee was appointed with reference 
to this part of the business. Among- its inembers wei'c 
some of the strong^est men of tlie diocese. The four 
laymen were amouG; the most eminent in tlie State, and 
three of the four cleri>y were men of nuiture age and 
experience as well as of recognized ahihty. In their 
])(»litical views they were fairly balanced, foi", of tlie 
whole eight members, four had been in favor of uncon- 
ditional secession, three had acted with the \n\Y{\ of 
cooperation, and one t.iken neither side on that 

AVhen the report of tin' <'ommittee was brought in on 
the second day of the convention, the greatest anxiety 
was felt by all parties ; for it was all but certain that the 
r('))ort of such a commiltci' wimld carry the suffrages of 
a large majority of the meml)ers present. The result 
justified the ex])ectation. The committee, after a few 
words in which they called attention to the floui'ishing 
and hopeful condition of the internal affairs of the dio- 
cese, proceeded dir(M'tly to the consideration of the eccle- 
siastical consequences of the s(>cession of the State from 
the Federal Union. They discussed the (|uestions at 
is.suc calmly and dispassionately, on purely historical 
and canonical gi-ounds. a\<)iding the liisliojt's ]ilirase of 
••diocesan inde})endence, "'except in one instance, in which 
the connection sufficiently defined the sense in which 
the phrase was used. The scope of their argument. 

/Et. 55] DM. GOODRICH'S VIEWS. 295 

liowever, sustained the bisliop'.s positions in every otlier 
partienlar. The only part of the T'eport wliioh exhibited 
any warmth at all was that in which they expressed 
their cordial and affectionate regard for their brother- 
churchmen of the United States from whom they be- 
lieved themselves to have been ecclesiastically separated ; 
and in this part of their report they chose to use the 
same glowing words which had been already used by 
the bishop in his first pastoral of January 30, 18G1. 
When the resolutions of the committee were formally 
moved for adoption there was almc^st literally no oi)po- 
sition. The Rev. Dr. Goodrich, rector of St. Paul's, New 
Orleans, who was one of the most respected and beloved 
clergymen in the diocese, and who had been one of the 
most reluctant to admit that the ordinance of secession, 
or any other act of secular power, could eflfect a separa- 
tion l)etween the dioceses of the Church, rose in his place 
and said that the view of the subject which had been 
presented by the committee was entirely new to him ; 
that he had not thought of considering it in the light 
in which it had been considered by the committee ; and 
that from the provisions of the constitution and canons 
of the Church which had been cited l)y the committe(% 
it now appeared that the separation of the diocese from 
the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States 
had been effected not by the direct operation of the 
ordinance of secession, but by the operation of the laws 
of the Church itself, which, though they had not l)een 
made with that particular intention, Avcre nevertheless 
of su(;h force as to effect the separation in such circum- 
stances as had arisen. It was impossible, he said, to 
tloubt that the quotations from the constitution and 
canons of the Church whicli the committee had made 
could have been made otlierwise than accuratelv and 

2!)() MtOl'TION OF THE UEPOUT. [18U1 

with perfect fairness, and in tlic faee of those quotations 
ho was not prepared to deny the conclusions at which 
the committee had arrived. He should not, therefore, 
oppose the adoption of the resolutions which had heen 
snbmitted to the convention. 

After the modest and temperate spee(^h of Dr. Good- 
rich, one clergyman spoke in opposition to the resolu- 
tions ; the committee made no reply, and the whole sei-ies 
was carried with hardly a dissenting voice. At the be- 
ginning of the reading of the report of the committee, 
the bisho}) sat in his chair with an aspect of studied 
composure, l)ut to one who knew him well it was easy 
to see that he was exceedingly anxious. Until the com- 
mittee entered the house from the room in which they 
had been deliberating, he had received no intimation of 
tlie nature of their report, and he had been too proud to 
make personal inquiry concerning the opinions of the 
several members of the convention. He would have 
been content with the appointment of delegates to the 
(convention at iMontgumery. — that, indeed, was all that 
he had asked in his address; but his Avarm-hearted, 
affectionate nature, much more than his jnst sense of 
official dignity, had led him to desire a more unc(piivocal 
indorsement from his diocese than it had been altogether 
certain that he would receive. He thought himself pre- 
])ared for either event, l>ut he was not entirely prepared 
for tlie elaborate and complete \andication presented in 
the report of the committee; and when their proposi- 
tions Avere successively laid doA\Ti with a force of argu- 
ment which, to say the least, was not contemptil)le ; when 
their resolutions were read, clearly sustaining him on 
grounds which he himself had not fully, if at all, thought 
out; when all dignified ()])i)()sition wa.s gracefully and 
graciously withdrawn: and when his convention all but 

.lit. 5.')] .1 CROWyiAG HAFFINESS. 297 

iiuauiniously stood by liim and sustuined liiin before the 
world and before the Chnrch, — then his deep sense of 
satisfaction beamed from every featm-e of his noble 
countenance. That was virtually the last act of his last 
convention, for the remaining business was merely 
formal. It was the crowning happiness of the most 
successful year of his episcopate. It was not, indeed, an 
unmingied joy, for it came as an alleviation of a great 
sorrow; but such as it was, it is something to thank 
God for that this, the last act of his last convention, was 
an act of loving, loyal support.^ 

A few words of comment on the action of the conven- 
tion of the diocese of Louisiana can hardly be out of 
place at this point. Now that all the excitements of the 
time have long passed away, it seems to me, in the light 
of some later studies in ecclesiastical history and canon 
law, that, so far as the canonical argument of the Com- 
mittee on the State of the Church goes, I should be pre- 
pared to hold a brief either for or against the resolu- 
tions. That there is force in the argument I still tliink, 
but that there is as much force in it as I thouglit then 
is no longer clear to me. I find some serious flaws in it 
which a dexterous advocate might point out witli dam- 
aging effect. In the historical argument I find no fault 
at all ; it now seems to me to have been needlessly 
weakened by adding to it the more questionable theses 
which were founded upon canon law. As good lawyers 
say, " One good reason is better than two ; " and yet it 
was precisely the weaker argument, as I now consider 
it, which carried most conviction and disarmed most 

Looking at the action of the diocese of Louisiana as 

1 For report of committee, see Appendix to Chapter VII. 


a whole, I regard it as right in itself under the existing 
circumstances, and, with reference to its results, as a 
cause of unbounded thankfulness. But for the calling 
of the convention of the bishops and delegates of the 
southern dioceses at Montgomery by the Inshops of 
Louisiana and Georgia, those dioceses might have re- 
mained without organization throughout the whole 
period of tlie war; and but for the strong support 
given to those two bishops by their diocesan conven- 
tions, the convention at Montgomery woidd probably 
not have been held. If the southern dioceses had been 
compelled, during the excitements of tliose frightful 
years, to remain in the condition of virtual independence, 
many deplorable irregularities would probably have 
occurred, and it is morally certain that the happy re- 
union of our whole Church, which followed instantly 
after the close of the war, would not, and could not, liave 
tak(ni place with the fraternally instinctive spontaneity 
which was, and will remain, a crown of glory to both 
sections of the Church. I hold, therefore, i)aradoxical 
as it may appear, that the greatest service which Bishop 
Polk ever rendered to the Church, which he would have 
gladly died to serve, was his declaration tliat, without a 
l)reach of the essential unity of the Church, and -snthout 
the least breach of reciprocal affection, the bond of pro- 
vincial union between the southern and the northern 
dioceses had been effectually sundered. And if one may 
reasonably consider not only what has happened, but 
what might liave hapjjened, the impression of the wis- 
dom and far-sighted charity of Bishop Polk admits of 
no dispute. No one can look back upon the events of 
the war between the States and say that the success of 
the Confederacy was an impossibihty. If the Confeder- 
acy had succeeded, there Avould never have Ijeen any 

.1^1.55] WISDOM OF FOLK'S COUBSE. 299 

question, either at the North or at the South, of the 
soundness of the views which Polk had set forth con- 
cerning the ecclesiastical effect of an ordinance of seces- 
sion ; but the terms of brotherly love in w^hich he had 
testified that the southern Church had no cause of griev- 
ance against her northern sister w^ould, in all human 
probability, have smoothed the way for a reunion of 
the two bodies in all matters not pertaining to the 
administration of their local affairs. And then — who 
knows f — the influence of the Church might have availed 
to suggest, and perhaps to bring about, a political re- 
union of the two alienated sections of the country. 
These may be idle dreams nou\ but they might well have 
been realities, and whatever w^e may think about them 
now, the fact is apparent that, in either event, the ^wnse 
leading of Polk had prepared the way for the ultimate 
furtherance of the best interests of the Church. 

John Fulton. 


Extracts from Bishop Polk's Address to the Annual 

Convention of the Diocese of Louisiana, at 

Grace Church, St. Francisville, 1861. 

On the 26tli of January, the State of Louisiana, in the exer- 
cise of her indefeasible riijht, severed her connection with the 
Government of the United States, resumed the powers of 
which she had divested herself, and became a separate and 
independent sovereignty. Tliis act carried with it the alle- 
giance of her citizens. Their supreme government ceased to 
be that of the United States, and became that of the State of 
Louisiana, to which alone they owed a paramount fealty, and 
all the duties growing out of such a relationship. This change 
of allegiance chm-chmen shared in common with others, and 
it became their duty promptly to demonstrate their recogni- 
tion of that change, in the forms in which the Founder of 
our holy religion required his followers to recognize de facto 
governments. In the affair of the tribute-money, he lays 
down the doctrine that such governments have a right to 
claim from their citizens or subjects the support necessary for 
their effective maintenance, — a right founded on the fact that 
the State, as well as the Church, is a divine institution, under 
whatever form of organization it may be presented. In the 
administration of divine pi-ovidence, the Ruler of the universe 
casteth down one and putteth up another, choosing for him- 
self the instruments l)cst adapted to effect his ends. So that, 
whether it be Sanhedrim or Ciiesar, ''the powers that be are 
ordained of God." They are to be supported uot only with 
material aid and personal services, but by suppHcations and 
l)rayers. Hence arises the duty of a Church, on the occur- 



rence of any established cliauge of government, to alter her 
formularies so as to make them conform to the new condition 
of things. It was clear, therefore, in the circumsta^nces in 
which we were placed, that an alteration in the services of 
the Book of Common Prayer, after the separation of Louisi- 
ana from the Govei-nment of the United States, was indispen- 
sable. It was an alteration forced by the necessity of obedi- 
ence to the law of Christ himself. This was felt by the 
clergy and laity of the diocese generally, not less than by 
myself. But, under the constitution and canons of the 
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, there 
existed no authority accessible to lis competent to meet the 
emergency. Section 14, Canon 13, Title I, it is true, gives to 
the bisho{) of each diocese authority '' to compose forms of 
prayer, as the case may require for extraordinary occasions " ; 
and under its provisions I set forth, for the national fast, the 
form appended to my pastoral letter of December 28th. The 
case now joresented is altogether different. It called for an 
alteration in the matter of the Book of Common Prayer it- 
self, a prerogative withheld from the bishops, because ex- 
pressly surrendered by them and their diocesan conventions 
at the time they adopted the constitution. This power is 
vested in the general convention alone. In the Eighth Article 
of the constitution of the national Church, it is provided 
that " no alteration or addition shall be made in the Book of 
Common Prayer, unless the same shall be proposed in one 
general convention, and, by a resolve thereof, made known 
to the convention of every diocese, and adopted at the sub- 
sequent general convention." The delay involved in an effort 
to comply with this pro-\dsion, even supposing that, when it 
was allowed, it Avould have met the ease, was manifestly for- 
bidden by the pressing nature of the emergency. What, then, 
was to be done*? A conflict now arose between the duty 
which we, as a diocese, owed to the provisions of a constitu- 
tion which bound us to pray for the rulers of one govern- 
ment, and the duty which we owed to the law of Christ 
himself which required us to pray for those of another. In 
such a case, the latter must, of necessity; prevail, though it be 


at the expense of the overthrow of the constitution whose 
provisions we should be forced thus deliberately to repudiate. 
It has prevailed. And although we have not, as a diocese, 
in our assembled capacity, pionounced upon and avowed 
this repudiation, yet we have done so in effect. My view of 
the duties of my office, under those circumstances, required 
me to addi'ess to you my pastoral letter of the 30th of Janu- 
ary, setting forth and directing certain alterations in the 
Book of Common Prayer ; and your view of the duties of 
yours authorized you to accept and use those alterations in 
the public services of the Church. Of tlie propriety and duty 
of the course we have pursued in this matter, notwithstand- 
ing the effect of our action on our relations, under the con- 
stitiition, to the Church in the United States. I have not a 
doubt, nor can the reasoning which has led us to our present 
position be successfully controverted. 

There was a time in the history of the Church in Louisiana 
when it was not under the authority of the constitution of 
the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of 
America, and wiien there was no constitutional imion exist- 
ing lietween it and the dioceses in the United States. The 
Fifth Article of the constitution of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church in the United States provides for the admission of 
dioceses not in the Union on their agi'eeing to accede to that 
instrument ; and the diocese of Louisiana, having embodied 
tlie required stipulation in the First Article of her constitution, 
was admitted on application. 

In accepting the constitutional connection wliicli was thu.s 
established, our diocese did not intend to impose upon herself 
impossible obligations which in any future contingency would 
conflict with her duties to Christ. Thei-e are duties and 
rights which, in the case of communities, as of individual 
Christians, are inalienable, and which, in the nature of things, 
must always be reserved. In the case under consideration, 
the duty we have performed, and the right to perform it, are 
of that chai-acter ; and to discharge the former we have been 
obliged to resume the latter. And thus, having the exercise 
oi our original powers remitted to us, we have been forced. 


whether we would or not, into the position of diocesan 

It will be perceived, then, that our ecclesiastical position 
results from the political action of the State of Louisiana in 
separating- herself from the Federal Government of the United 
States, and from the effect of that action on the provisions of 
the Constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the 
United States. Not that it has been accomplished by any act 
of the legislature of the State in an attempt to exercise direct 
civil control over the political or ecclesiastical relations of the 
Church. To such influences the Church in tliis country is 
happily in no M'ise subject. 

But while the Church is entirely free from interference on 
the part of the State, she is, nevertheless, not exempt from the 
consequences of the action of the State on her present atti- 
tude in Louisiana. She assumes what her duty to her Lord 
requires her to assume, — that, though she be compelled to set 
aside her obligations to her ecclesiastical constitution in the 
United States of America, she must follow her nationality. 

It must not be forgotten that a written constitution, such 
as that which binds the dioceses of the United States together, 
is a novelty in the Church, no other instance of the kind being 
known to her history. It was adopted in imitation of the 
action of the States within whose boundaries onr dioceses lay. 
It was a measure of expedience, and, for all the purposes it 
was competent to serve, a wise one. But it was not a neces- 
sary condition of the Church's unity. It served the purpose 
of binding the choceses in a union of amity, and promoted 
their efifieiency as propagandists of the faith on this continent 
and elsewhere. It thus accomplished a holy mission. And 
while we, with hearts filled with soi'row, lament the uprising 
of the influences which have checked it in its blessed work, 
we yet cannot allow that its presence or its absence is material 
to the unity of the Church. The destruction of this constitu- 
tional bond, while it may be lamented, carries not with it the 
destruction of the oneness of the body of Christ ; the elements 
of which that consists are of a higher and more enduring 


Of the support we shall find in the history of the Church 
universal in its first and present ages for the action of our 
diocese in accepting and maintaining, if need be, an independ- 
ent position, it is not necessary here to speak. The normal 
condition of the dioceses of the Catholic Church is that of 
separate independence. A departure from that condition has 
ever been the fruit of expediencj' only. 

Under the promptings of this expediency, I have, as thb 
senior liishop of the dioceses in the Confederate States, in con- 
junction with the Bishop of Georgia, next in seniority, ven- 
tured to address a circular to our brother bishops in the 
Confederate States, to be by them laid before their respect- 
ive conventions, in\'iting them to unite in a convention to be 
held in Montgomery, Ala., on the 3d of July next; the con- 
vention, when held, to be composed of the bishops of the 
several dioceses in these States, and of three clerical and three 
lay delegates. The object of this convention is to consult 
upon such matters of interest to the Church as have arisen out 
of the changes in our civil affairs, with the view of securing 
uniformity and harmony of action. 

I have heard from several of the dioceses, and there is 
reason to beheve that the measure will meet with general 
favor. A letter just received by me from the Bishop of Texas 
informs me that his diocese, at its late convention, accepted 
the invitation and elected the requisite delegates. 

T have noAv respectfully to submit to you, my brethren, the 
proposal to unite on this measure. It cannot but be regarded 
as one of prudence and wisdom. And I humbly trust it may 
lead to such action as may secure to us all the fi-eedom 
necessary to diocesan efficiency and all the union which is 
demanded for the wisest application of oui* energies and 



The Committee on the State of the Church beg respectfully 
to report that there is great cause for gratitude to Almighty 
God for the continued prosperity of the Church in this dio- 
cese. The large number of new parishes admitted into union 
with the present convention, and the number of confirma- 
tions, greater by one third than in any previous year, are 
evident proofs that the hand of God is with us, and that the 
cause of Zion is prospering within our borders. 

But the shortness of the time allowed, and the importance 
of the matters faUing under their consideration, compel 
the committee to dismiss with these remarks the subjects 
commonly embraced in the report they are required to 
make, and which in general relate exclusively to the internal 
operations of the Chui-ch. The state of the Church imphes 
as well the state of her relations to the Chm-ch at large as 
the condition of her ordinary operations. Therefore the com- 
mittee feel themselves obhged to lay formally before the con- 
vention what they conceive to be the true relation to the 
whole body of Christ's Church Catholic, and particularly to 
that branch of it to which we lately belonged — the Protes- 
tant Episcopal Church in the United States of America — 
a duty which is forced upon us by the fact that Louisiana 
has within the last year separated from the nationality of 
which she previously formed a part, and has joined with 
other sovereign States in forming a new nation, to which 
she and we, her citizens, to-day owe our allegiance. The 
simple question which we have to meet is, whether any 
change in our relations, as a Church, to the Church in the 
United States is, or of right ought to be, involved in the 
change of national relations which has taken place. In an- 
swering this {|uestion, the committee ask to be indulged in 
stating brieliy the i-easons which have prevailed in bringing 
them to the conclusion they feel bound to lay before the 
convention. A brief synoptical form Avill probably be found 


the best, as the deficiencies in mere detail can readily be 
supplied by the learning of the members of the convention. 

1. The diocese of Louisiana, like every other diocese, 
is an integral portion of the One Catholic and Apostolic 
Church, in the unity of As-hich she cannot cease to be em- 
braced but by lapsing into heresy or schism ; for the unity 
of the Catholic Church is unity in tnie faith and apostolic 
order. Holding the Catholic faith, and having an apostolic 
ministry rightly and duly administering Christ's holy sacra- 
ments, this diocese possesses all that is essential to her being 
as a true and valid member of the One Church Cathohc and 
Apostolic. With these she would have been truly in the 
luiity of the Church, though she had never been conjoined 
with any other dioceses in a iinion such as that which forms 
the Protestant Episcopal Chm-ch in the United States of 
America ; and having these, though in the matter of her 
govei'nment she should by circumstances be dissevered from 
every other diocese, her catholicity must still be perfect, and 
the Church's unity in her regard imbroken. Acknowledging 
"One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" with the Universal 
Church, there is between her and all other churches '' unity 
of spirit" in the apostoHc ''bond of peace." This unity no 
mere political or national disturbances or revolutions can 
destroy, and this bond cannot be impaired by any changes 
among States or Nations. 

2. Unions among chui'ches are altogether different from 
the imity of the Church. The unity of the Church is unity 
in beheving and doing all that God has taught, and there- 
fore, as a matter of divine precept, is eternal in its obU- 
gation; while unions of churches are voluntary combinations 
for purposes of practical expediency, and therefore may 
be changed whenever soimd expediency requires that they 
should be dissolved. 

3. And it does not appear that in the days of the apostles, 
or for some time afterward, any combinations between dio- 
ceses were formed. It does not appear that under apostohc 
direction Ephesus — with its Bishop Timothy — or Crete — with 
its Bishop Titus — was formally conjoined with any other 


dioceses. Ou the contrary, it appears, from the tenor of 
Holy Scripture and the testimony of ancient authors, that 
every diocese was originally independent of every other. 

4. When, for reasons of expediency, unions among dio- 
ceses were entered into, it was by free consent among the 
parties to them. Considerations of convenience required them 
to be hmited in their extent; and, at first of choice, after- 
ward by the decrees of councils, they were made coextensive 
with the divisions of the empire which had been established 
by the civil power. In every province the senior bishop or 
the senior Church was allowed a certain precedence over the 
others, and out of this grew first the metropolitical and after- 
ward the patriarchal arrangements of the Church. 

5. At the disruption of the Roman Empire, the provincial 
distribution of the Church was merged into the national. 
Bishops and dioceses in every nation, being drawn together 
by the influence of national affinity, combined for the common 
benefit, and chiefly for the sake of hturgical uniformity, in 
forming churches conterminous in jurisdiction with the na- 
tions to which they owed temporal allegiance. 

G. It was with the element of nationality in churches that 
the papacy had most to contend, and side by side with the 
suppression of this principle we find the constant growth of 
papal usui'pations and corruptions. 

7. It was natm-al, therefore, that the Church, when re- 
formed, should resume that of which Rome had robbed her ; 
and the fact is that the articles and canons of our mother 
Church of England show her to l^e intensely national. Hei- 
Articles of Subscription are such that she requires her clergy 
to deny the existence in any foreigner of any power or au- 
thority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within the realm of Eng- 
land or any of her dependencies. 

8. Hence the clergy of the United States after the Revolu- 
tion, haAdng ceased to be subjects of the crown, ceased also t(j 
be clergy of the Church of England ; so that the independ- 
ence of the churches in the colonies was of necessity included 
in the independence of the colonies themselves. 

9. As was to be expected, the churches of the United States, 


aud the dioceses into which thej' were distributed, combined 
to form a ("hui'ch as strictly national as that of England. 
After a carefid study of her constitution and canons, this 
committee cannot forbear an*iving at the determinate con- 
clusion that they are of such a nature as to exclude from her 
any diocese wliose territory may have ceased to be a portion 
of the United States. 

(«) Her corporate style and designation is such as clearly to 
define her teiiitorial limits. She is the Protestant Episcopal 
Church IN THE United States of America. Her boundaries 
are those of the United States, beyond which she does not 
seek to include any other churches whatsoever. 

(6) By the Fiftli Article of her constitution, the implication 
involved in her corporate designation is defined in terms. By 
that article the admission of dioceses into union with the 
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America 
is limited to dioceses formed, or to be formed, within the 
States or Territories of that country ; so that none can con- 
stitutionally be admitted which do not lie ten-itorially within 
her boundaries. It is evident that that which is an indispen- 
sable condition of admission to union with her, must be indis- 
pensable to continuance in that union. Consequently, when 
the State in which our diocese is situated ceased to form a 
part of the United States, that condition failing on our part, 
we ceased, ipso facto, to retain that formal union with her of 
which territorial position within the United States is an m- 
dispensable condition. Had the Church in Florida, Louisiana, 
or Texas been as pei'fectly formed and fiirnislied as at pres- 
ent, they coidd not, previously to the annexation of those 
States to the United States, liave been admitted, under this 
article, to imion with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the 
United States. They were admitted, because, at the time of 
tlieir apphcation, those States lay within the boxmdaries of 
the United States. Having now ceased to lielong to the 
United States, a fair constructiim of the article requires us 
to hold them removed beyond the jurisdiction of the Prot- 
estant Episcopal Church in the United States. 

(c) But had any doubt been possible under Article Fifth 


of the constitution, that doubt would be removed by the 
express terms of Article Tenth. The Confederate States 
of America form a country foreign to the United States, and 
on failure of the episcopate in any of them, were we to look 
to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States for 
its continuance, the facts of the case would require applica- 
tion to be made, not in the manner heretofore open to us, 
but as is required by Article Tenth of the constitution, in 
which special provision is made for the consecration of 
bishops, not for foreign churches, but for foreign countries. 
By this article such bishops so consecrated would not be 
eligible to the ofiice of diocesan or assistant bishop in any 
diocese of the United States, nor entitled to a seat in the 
House of Bishops, nor could they lawfully exercise any epis- 
copal authority in those States. In other words, as bishops 
of a foreign country, they could not be, nor become, bishops 
of the United States, — a constitutional provision evidently 
reaching to bishops now in this position as well as to those 
who might thus, by possibility, be placed in it. Our bishops 
are now bishops of a country foreign to the United States, 
and cannot, therefore, ))y her own constitution, be any longer 
regarded as bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 
the United States. 

{d ) If anything were yet wanting to confirm the view that 
the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States is most 
distinctively and strictly national, it might be fully suppUed 
from the canon law of the Church with respect to foreign 
and domestic missionary bishops. (See Title I, Canon 13, 
Section 7, Clauses 1 and 5 ; also Section 8, Clauses 1 and 
2, of the same canon.) The domestic missionary bishop 
whose jurisdiction lies within the States or Territories of the 
United States is entitled to a seat in the House of Bishops, 
from which the foreign missionary bishop is excluded. The 
former, moreover, is eligible to the episcopate of a vacant 
diocese in the United States; the latter is inehgible but with 
the consent of three fourths of the bishops, clergy, and laity 
of the Church in general convention assembled. Thus of 
two bishops elected and consecrated in the same way and by 


the same parties, aud governed by the cauons of the same 
convention, the one, because bis jurisdiction lies within the 
United States, is invested witli the rig'ht of voice and vote 
in the convention by which he is governed, besides other 
important privileges from which the other is excluded, for no 
other reason than that he is called to exercise his functions in 
a foreign land. 

From all these considerations, aud others too numerous to 
be embraced in the limits of this report, the committee feel 
themselves compelled to the conclusion that, whereas the 
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America 
is, and was rightly intended to be, a strictly national body, 
into which the diocese of Louisiana was admitted because at 
the time of her admission the State of Louisiana fonned 
a portion of the United States ; and whereas Louisiana has 
dissolved the union formerly existing between her and the 
United States, and so has separated from that nation, there- 
fore the dioc«se of Louisiana has ceased to belong to the 
national Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of 
America. And whereas the State of Loiiisiana has entered 
into a new confederacy, and is now part of a new nation, 
therefore as the highest expediency has, from very early 
times, prompted such confederations among adjacent dio- 
ceses of the Catholic Church as might advance the common 
welfare; and as nature and experience, no less than the high- 
est prudence, teach that such confederations should be na- 
tional, like that in the United States, therefore this diocese, 
in the opinion of this committee, ought, in the exercise of 
that liberty wherewith Christ hatli made us free, to take such 
steps as may be necessary to the formation of a national 
Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of 

It is needless, after what has been pre\'iously said, that 
the committee should declare that so far as Louisiana is 
concerned, the unity of the Chm-eh is tmbroken ; nor need 
the committee frame new words to express the never-failing 
love which every member of this diocese must always have 
for our bretln-en of the Church in the Ignited States. We 


prefer, in this connection, to adopt the words of our Right 
Reverend Fatlier, as we find them in his pastoral letters. 
They represent the cherished sentiments of every chui'chman 
in the diocese : 

" It is our happiness to know that in canvassing the sum of 
the political grievances of which we have complained, we find 
no contribution made to it by brethren of our own household. 
Oui" Church in the non-slaveholding States, as everywhere, 
has been loyal to the constitution and the laws. Her sound 
conservative teaching and her well-ordered organization have 
held her steadily to her proper work, and she has confined 
herself simply to preaching and teaching the gospel of Christ. 
Surrounded by a strong pressure on every side, she has suc- 
cessfully resisted its power, and has refused to lend the aid 
of her conventions, her pulpits, and her presses to the radical 
and unscriptural propagandism which has so degraded Chris- 
tianity and plunged our country into its unhappy condition. 

" In withdrawing ourselves, therefore, from all political con- 
nection with the union to which oui* brethren belong, we do 
so with hearts filled with sorrow at the prospect of its forcing 
a termination of our ecclesiastical connection with them also, 
and that we shall be separated from those whose intelligence, 
patriotism, Chiistian integrity and piety we have longlaiown, 
and for whom we entertain sincere respect and affection. 

" Om' separation from our brethren of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church in the United States has been effected because 
we must follow our nationality. Not because there has been 
any difference of opinion as to Christian doctrine or catholic 
usage. Upon these points we are still one. With lis it is a 
separation, not division, certainly not alienation. And there 
is no reason why, if we should find the union of our dioceses 
under one national Church impracticable, we should cease 
to feel for each other the respect and regard with which 
purity of manners, high principle, and a manly devotion 
to truth never fail to inspire generous minds." 

It remains, then, only that the committee should present 
this most important subject for the action of the convention 
in the form of resolutions. 



Whereas, The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United 
States of America is, and was rightly intended to be, a 
strictly national body, not admitting into union with it dio- 
ceses situated in foreign countries ; 

And ivhereas, The State of Louisiana has by ordinance dis- 
solved the union formerly existing between it and the United 
States of America, thereby making the State of Loiusiana 
foreign to the United States; therefore, 

Resolved, That the Diocese of Louisiana has ceased to be a 
diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United 
States of America. 

Bid ivhereas, The universal experience of the Catholic 
Church has from a very early time shown the necessity of 
such local combinations among dioceses as might advance the 
common welfare ; 

And u-hereas, Reasons of the highest expediency demand 
that the Church in this respect should follow the nationaUties 
which in the order of Divine Providence may be raised up ; 

Resolved, That the Diocese of Louisiana, loyal to the doc- 
trine, discipline, and example of the holy Catholic Chvireh, and 
closely following the model of our mother Church of England 
and of our sister dioceses in the United States, is desirous of 
entering into union with the remaining dioceses of the Con- 
fedei-ate States for the formation of a national Protestant 
Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. 

Resolved further, That this convention will appoint delegates 
to represent tlie diocese in a convention of the Pi-otestant 
Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America, to be 
held at Montgomery, in the State and Diocese of Alabama, on 
the third day of July next. 

All which is respectfully submitted. 

{Signed.) C. S. Hedges, D.D. George S. Guion. 

W. T. Leacock, D.D. Henry Johnsox. 

Dak'l S. Lewis, D.D. Alex. Montgomery. 
John Fulton. W. J. Lyle. 

AF PEN nix TO CHAPTEli VII. Ill 3 

On motion of Dr. J. P. Davidson, the report of the committee 
was received, and the eonventiou proceeded to the considera- 
tion of the resokitions therein proposed for adoption. The 
resolutions were then, on motion of the Rev. John Fulton, 
seconded by Dr. Lyle, severally put, and, without amendment, 


LIay to July, 1861. 

The war crisis following secession.— Men of all professions drawn into 
the southern Army.— The defenses of the Mississippi.— orrespond- 
ence with Mr. Davis.— Soldierly qualities.— Anecdote.— Trip to Vir- 
ginia. — Tour of the camps. — Divine services and confirmation. — Visit 
to Bishop Meade. — Military service proposed. — Mr. Davis offers c 
definite command.— The proposal urged by a delegation from the 
Mississippi Valley.— Albert Sidney Johnston.— Commissioned as major- 
general in the provisional army.— Patriotic motives in accepting.— A 
matter of — Approval of Bishop Meade and others. — Letter 
to Mrs. Polk.— Letters to Bishop Elliott. — Promise of an early return to 
Church work. — Sword and gown anecdote. — Bishop Polk's high esti- 
mate of the episcopal dignity.—Anecdotes.- The bishopric not re- 
signed, but its duties laid aside whUe in the army.— Aid in diocesan 
work from Bishops Otey, Elliott, and Lay.— The priestly function.— 
Views of Churchmen on Bishop Polk's entering the army generally 
favorable. — Strong expressions of approval and esteem from Bishops 
Meade, EUiott, Otey. and others.— Letter from Bishop Hopkins.— Let- 
ter to Dr. John Fulton.— Commission resigned.— Letter to Mr. Davis; 
to General A. S. Johnston. — Reply from Mr. Davis; from Mr. Mem- 
minger ; from Bishop Meade : from Bishop Otey.— Extract from Bishop 
Otey's diary. — Re.signation withdrawn and again forwarded.— Remon- 
strances by Mr. Davis and others.— Summary view. 

Duriu£c the early months of 1861 the polemies of 
tongue and pen were rapidly ehan2:ing at the South to 
the polemies of the sword. Before secession became 
an accomplished act there were, among representative 
Southern men and among tlie people, radical differences 
of opinion, based upon ])()li<'y and sentiment, as to the 


iEt. 55] THE CALL TO ABMS. 315 

proposed separation. When the swift march of events 
had shown that the sectional debate, which had been 
growing in intensity and bitterness for half a century, 
was to be argvied out in the foriim of war, snch differ- 
ences were swept into the limbo of dead issues. After 
the Provisional Congress had met in Montgomery, all 
the best talent and experience of the seceding States, 
with rare exceptions, drifted, as by an impulse of neces- 
sity and of self-preservation, to the support of the Con- 
federate Government. 

The martial spirit was everywhere abroad. Men of 
all temperaments, of all previous opinions, and of all 
professions began to take arms. Political preferments 
and that leadership in civil affairs which southern men 
had hitherto sought with eagerness were no longer 
thought of. Tlie post of duty and honor was felt to be 
in the army and at the front. The consideration even 
of military rank was set aside. Young men of the high- 
est social position who had learned the manual of arms 
in the holiday volunteer corps were expected to carry 
their muskets and guard the trenches, and they went 
with alacrity. Upon men of military education or ex- 
perience the call was even more peremptory. From 
cadets who could be assigned to drill recruits, to soldiers 
who were competent to command brigades and di\'isions, 
all who could give aid in setting the newly gathered 
armies in the field were eagerly sought, and were ex- 
pected to accept command. 

In such a crisis and in such an atmosphere it was im- 
possible for a man of Bishop Polk's education and char- 
acter to take sanctuary beliind the precedents which 
govern men of his sacred calling in quieter times. We 
have seen the promptness with which he had met the 
ecclesiastical crisis created bv the secession of Louisiana. 


jiud the eariH'stnoss and force with which he had pressed 
upon President Buclianan the certainty that coercive 
measures ag^ainst the secedinii" States would precipitate 
a. hloody war. When the war he liad foreseen had ]>eeii 
actually begun, he knew that i)ronipt and energetic mea- 
sures of defense w'ere necessary to resist invasion ; and 
liis military education and knowledge of the country 
enabled him to tell precisely where the defense of the 
South would be most difficult. 

On the 14th of May he addressed a letter to President 
Davis on the exposed condition of the Valley States. 
At the outbreak of hostilities troops and arms had been 
hurried from all parts of the South to resist tlie Federal 
advance into Virginia ; but to the eye of a soldier it was 
clear that a tremendous struggle for the possession of 
the Mississippi River must presently begin. Mr. Davis 
did not underestimate the importance of that great high- 
way of commerce, nor the danger with which it was 
menaced, but he could do little more at that time than 
meet the necessities of preparation for the impending 
Virginia campaign. His reply was written a few days 
before the removal of the seat of government to Rich- 

Montgomery, Ala., May 22, 1861, 

Dear Sir : Your kind letter of the 14th inst. has been re- 
ceived. Yoiu" solicitude for the defense and safety of the 
Mississippi Valley is natural ; but I think it is in no present 
danger. An invasion will hardly be attempted at this season 
of the year. The people of the northwestern States have so 
great a di'ead of our climate that they could not be prevailed 
on to march against us. Even if they did, due precautions 
have been taken by sending guns to different positions deemed 
most favorable, and by assembling troops at Union City and 
Corinth to sustain the batteries on the river ar.f' meet any 


column sent into the interior. It would gratify me very much 
to see you. Accept my thanks for pious wishes, and believe 
me Ever your sincere friend, 

Jepfn. Davis. 
Et. Rev. Leonidas Polk. 

Whether the appointment of Bishop Polk to a military 
command in the West had been suggested to President 
Davis before the date of this letter, the writer has no 
means of knowing. The expression of a desire to see 
the bishop may indicate that the subject was already 
under consideration, or it may mean simply that the 
President would be pleased to have a personal consulta- 
tion with a prominent citizen of Louisiana, who was his 
personal friend, and who had been much consulted by 
the people on the military situation. 

Throughout the lower Mississippi Valley, where the 
bishop was weU known to the whole people, either per- 
sonally or by reputation, a desire that he should aid in 
the defense of their property and their homes began to 
be felt and expressed almost from the hour when the 
hope of peaceable secession was abandoned. It was no 
secret that his natural bent of mind and character was 
rather that of a soldier than of a priest, and that he had 
entered the ministry under a deep conviction of religious 
duty, not because the quiet life of a clergyman was more 
congenial to him than the arduous and stirring life of a 
soldier. His family connections and long residence in 
Tennessee, his travels far and wide in the extensive mis- 
sionary jurisdiction of the Southwest, and his position 
as Bishop of Louisiana, had made him one of the best- 
known men in the States of the Confederacy bordering 
upon the Mississippi River ; and, wherever known, Polk 
was recognized and rememlx'red as possessing the quali- 
ties (if a natural leader. The inipressioii he made on 


casual and very humble acquaintances was remarkable ; 
and an anecdote which was current during the war goes 
far to illustrate the origin of the instinctive popular con- 
fidence in his fitness for high mihtary command. Trav- 
eling on horseback in one of liis episcopal \'isitations, he 
stopped for the night at a country inn, when his host at 
once addressed him as " General." 

"No, my friend," said Polk, "you are mistaken j I am 
not a soldier." 

" Judge, then," hazarded the innkeeper. 

" That is not the title given me by those who know 
me," rephed Polk, beginning to be amused. 

" WeU, Bishop, then ! " 

" Right," said Polk, laughing. 

To whicli the other rejoined, " I knew you were at the 
head of your profession, whatever it was." 

His habitual promptness and \dgor in action, his man- 
ifest conscientiousness and absolute fearlessness in the 
performance of duty, and a certain air of soldierly com- 
mand that characterized his whole bearing, caused him 
to be noted from the fii-st as a man to whom liis fellow- 
citizens must look for counsel and leadership in the 
dark and dangerous crisis into which they had been 

Visiting Sewanee in the month of 3Iay on business of 
the university, Governor Isham G. Hari'is of Tennessee 
requested him to go to President Davis at Richmond 
and ui-ge that prompt measures might be taken for the 
defense of the Mississippi Valley. Early in June he went 
to Richmond, partly, as he ^vrote to Bishop ElHott, " to see 
my young churchmen in the several Louisiana regiments 
all over Virginia," and partly, at the request of Governor 
Harris, to \asit President Davis and to use his knowledge 
and influence in completing the armament and equip- 


lueni of the Tennessee troops. The following letter to 
Mrs. Polk was written at this time : 

Richmond, Va., June 10, 1861. 
My dear Wife : I am quite well, and have had good reason 
to know that my visit here has been of decided use to om* 
cause in several important particulars. I have dined with 
Davis and members of his Cabinet, and have had full corre- 
spondence with him, in which I discussed matters pertainiug 
to our affairs with gi'eat freedom and fuUness. He has re- 
ceived me with great kindness and confidence, and I think the 
interview will not be otherwise than productive of good re- 
sults. He is the best man we could have, and commands 
general confidence. We want, and he wants, General A. S. 
Johnston badly. He has not yet arrived. I have had several 
interviews with General Lee. He is a highly accomphshed 
man. Johnston is expected shortly. Joe Johnston is at 
Harper's Ferry. John Magruder is at Hampton. Beaure- 
gard is at Manassas Gap ; Garnet in NorthAvestern Virginia, 
toward Wheeling ; Wise in the dh-ection of the Kanawha Val- 
ley. Davis" will take the field in person when the movement 
is to be made. I am doing what I can to serve Tennessee, and 
getting lier field-batteries, — wliich are of the first importance, 
■ — and also helping in some otlier respects. 

After a stay of eight or ten days in Richmond he 
visited Norfolk, Yorktown, Bethel Church, Manassas, 
Winchester, and the camps around Richmond, holding 
divine service for the soldiers and confirming not a few. 
He met many old friends from Louisiana and other 
States, and many officers who had resigned their com- 
missions in the Federal Army ; and all pressed him to 
take service with the Confederacy. In his visits to Mr. 
Davis to deliver (xovernor Harris's message and to renew 
the recommendations made in his own letter of lSh\\ 
14th, he warndy urged that Albert Sidney Johnston was 
the fittest person to be entrusted with the Department- of 


the West. But at that moment Johnston Avas on the 
Pacific Coast awaiting an opportunity to Ix'gin his famous 
journey across the desert from Los Angeles to the Rio 
Grande. Davis offered the command to Polk himself : 
but Polk declined, and shortly afterward Mr. Da\ds ad- 
dressed to him the following friendly letter, renemng 
his proposal and stating the extent of the boundaries of 
the proposed command. 

Mil dear Friend: Would it be affreenble to you, with the rank 
of brigadier-general, to have command of the land and water 
defenses of the Mississippi River above tlie mouth of Red 
River as far as our power may bear oiu- jurisdiction ? The 
department would include tlie river counties of INIississippi 
and Arkansas, the river parishes of Louisiana north of the 
Red River, and that part of West Tennessee west and south 
of the Tennessee River. 

This letter was followed a few days later by a formal 
note from the President, urging Polk to accept the com- 
mission of major-general with substantially the same 
duties. A delegation of gentlemen from the Mississippi 
Valley, all of whom were personally acquainted with 
Polk, was then in Virginia asking for the immediate 
appointment of an officer to defend the river country, 
and unanimously urged liim to accept the President's 
appointment. Of the affair at this stage Bishop Polk 
gave the following account in a letter to i\Ii-s. Polk, 
dated Richmond, June 19th : 

I find tlicre is a QVQAi wish on the part of my friends that I 
shouhl take part in this movement. The expression is very 
general, and the President has twice brought it before me. 
He is very desirous for me to accept a commission in the Con- 
federate Army, and has urged many considerations for my 
compliance. A number of New Orleans people, seem to de- 


sire it also, as well as many of my military friends. I have 
said I could give no answer to this now. No man is more 
deeply impressed with the paramount importance of our suc- 
cess in this movement, nor more filled with apprehension at 
the prospect of its failure ; but what my duty may be 1 have 
not yet determined. I cannot ignore what I know ; I cannot 
forget what I have learned j nor can I forget I have been 
educated by the country for its service in certain contingen- 
cies. Yet I feel the step to wliich I have been invited is one 
of the very gravest character in all its bearings all the way 
around, and I am not going to decide it hastily. Whatever 
may be the result, I liope I may be guided from on High in 
determining, and I trust, in any event, I may be permitted to 
see my way clear before me. 

On the 22d of June the delegation from the Missis- 
sippi Valley returned to Richmond after a visit to the 
military stations in Virginia, and renewed their petitions 
to Polk. The question of entering the army had then 
been definitely before him for a week. Believing the 
cause of the South to be a righteous one, he never for a 
moment doubted that to draw the sword in its defense 
would be consistent with his vows to the Church. On 
the contrary, his letters of this period contain ample 
evidence that he felt that duty required him to do so if 
his services were really needed. This was the one question 
to which he prayerfully sought a true answer, and on 
which he took advice. All the rest lay between him 
and his God. Upon the right or the wrong of the step, 
as a matter of conscience, he never consulted any man. 
Reserving the final decision to himself, he conferred 
A\nth judicious friends in the Church and in the civil and 
military service of the Confederacy; and he came to the 
conclusion that, under all the circumstances, he could 
not stand excused in his own judgment and conscience 
if he were to decline. In making his decision known to 


Mr. Davis, ho said that lie would gladly he excused from 
the arduous and responsible task set before him; but 
that if another, better qualified, could not be found, he 
would not shrink from it. His commission as major- 
general was issued on the 25th of June, 1861, and a few 
days later he set out to take command of his department, 
with headquarters in Memphis. 

In the following letters to Mrs. Polk and Bishop Elliott 
he narrates what had occurred between the 19th and 
the 22d of June, gives an account of a visit to Bishop 
Meade, and tells his own feelings in consenting to enter 

the army. 

Richmond, June 22, 1861. 

My beloved Wife: I wrote you a few days ago from tliis 
place ; I hope you received my letter. Since writing, I have 
been to Manassas Junction, and to the Valley of Virginia, 
near Winchester. I have also spent a day with Bishop 
Meade at his house near Millwood. 

I told you in my last letter that I had been urgently 
soUcited by many persons of consideration to lend the aid of 
ray influence — my name and personal services — to this 
great cause. These soUcitations have been extended and 
widened, and many pleasant sayings reach me from my old 
friends and others in liigh station as to the importance of allow- 
ing myself to take part, actively, in this — as they say — all- 
impoi-tant movement. I dare not write what is said of their 
estimate of my capacity to serve the country in this emergency, 
nor is it at all necessary. 

You know my heart is in it, and that I would do an>i;hiiig 
that was not ivrong to serve it ; and yet I beheve I have a low 
estimate of my ability, and should fear to attempt what I 
could not well execute — supposing all that was questionable 
as to the propriety of the matter out of the way. As to the 
latter phase of the question, I had a long talk with Bishop 
Meade. His reply was, under all the cu-eumstances of the 
case, taking my education, history, and natural character into 
the accoimt, he could not condemn it. He was not expected to 

^t. 55] '' TH^<; DUTY NEXT HIM" 323 

advise it. Since writing you last, a deputation of gentlemen 
have arrived from the Valley of the Mississippi, sent by a 
large meeting held there, to ask tlie President to appoint a 
military commander to the charge of that region. These 
gentlemen have come to me, and unanimously ui-ged upon me 
to aUow myself to be appointed to that office. 

This they did before I left town three days ago. I have 
just returned to town, and they have been after me again. 
I have now had this matter before me a week, and have 
thought and prayed over it, and taken counsel of the most 
judicious of my friends, and I find my mind unable to say 
No to this call, for it seems to be a call of Providence. I 
shall, therefore, looking to God for his guidance and bless- 
ing, say to President Davis that I wiU do what I can for 
my country, om- hearth-stones, and our altars, and he may 
appoint me to the office he proposed. And may the Lord 
have mercy upon me, and help me to be wise, to be saga- 
cious, to be firm, to be merciful, and to be filled with all the 
knowledge and all the gi-aces necessary to qualify me to fill 
the office to his glory and the good of men. I shall see 
President Davis this evening and shall leave for Maury 
next week. 

We shall have an attack on Alexandria next week, also a 
battle in the neighborhood of York shortly. Everybody is 
in good spirits and filled with resolution to free our country 
of the invader. 

Affectionately yours, 

L. Polk. 

Richmond, June 22, 1861. 
My dear Elliott: I have been in Virginia about a fort- 
night; came to see my young churchmen in the several 
Louisiana regiments all over Virginia. I have visited Nor- 
folk, Yorktown, Bethel Church, Manassas, and Winchester, 
also the camp near the city. Louisiana has turned out 
about 12,000, and they are the flower of our youth; a fine, 
gallant set of fellows they are, of wdiom I feel proud. I 
came also to assist in completing the armament of Ten- 
nessee, at the instance of Governor Harris. This latter 


work, so far as field-artillery (their greatest need) is con- 
sidered, is now pretty well complete. >Say to Hettiei that 
the old North State has got through with her thinking, and, 
as I promised, has gone to working, and the Bethel affair, 
which, by the way, was conducted in chief part by two 
Mecklenburg companies, is but an earnest of the sort of work 
she is to do when she gets wide awake. 

I have just returned from a visit to old Father Meade. 
We talked over everything connected with Church and State. 
He is right, wonderfully right, all the way round. I was 
dehghted with him. He is a regular old Roman, and is 
quite ready to be southern all through. He is for a down- 
right good fight, and wants the enemy to feel the weight 
of our arm. He is for no half-way measures, and so was veiy 
refreshing. His clerg>', too, are of the same view. 

None of the delegation from Virginia will feel at hberty 
to leave home for ^Montgomery on account of the war. The 
convention must meet and adjourn. I fear I cannot be at the 
convention. The North seems bent on oven-unning the coun- 
try and sponging us out at all hazards. I find many of my 
friends in and out of the Church, and in and out of my dio- 
cese, pressing me to take military serxice. The President, 
Davis, also, has again and again called my attention to it, and 
proposed it. At last, he has in a foitnal manner adch'essed me 
a note urging the acceptance of the office of major-general, to 
be charged with the water and land defenses of the Mississippi 
River, ft-om our upper boundary down to the mouth of Red 
River. All this has embaiTassed me not a little, and this 
embarrassment has been increased to-day by the appear- 
ance in Richmond of a committee of gentlemen from the 
Valley of the Mississippi, who came to ask Davis for some 
one to take charge of its defenses. They are all known to 
me, and have united in urging this appointment upon me. 
The matter has been before me for a week. I have con- 
sulted some judicious friends in and out of the Chm'ch. 
among them old Father Meade. He says as a general rule 
he could not sanction it, but that all rules have exceptions, 

1 A daughter of Bishop Elliott. 


and, taking all things into consideration as they relate to 
the condition of the country and myself personally, he could 
not condemn my coui'se if I should accept the appointment. 
I wanted a view of the matter from his standpoint. The 
decision I reserved for myself. Under all the circumstances I 
cannot see how I could stand excused in my own judgment 
and conscience in decUning it. I have therefore told Davis 
that while I should be glad to be excused from the respon- 
sibility, still, if he can find no one who could perform the 
work he desires to have done better, I will not shrink from 
it, notwithstanding an unfeigned difiidence of my capacity 
to do it as it should be done. 

/ believe most solemnly that it is for Constitutional liberty, 
which seems to have fled to us for refuge, for our hearth- stones, 
and our altars that we strike. I liope I shall be supported i)i 
the work and have grace to do my duty. 

As to my diocese, I have, of course, not had time to con- 
sult it, nor would I have done so if I had. This is such a 
case as I should, I think, decide for myself. I shall not 
resign my charge of it, but shall write them that I have 
undertaken this ivork because it seemed the duty next me, a duty 
I trust God will allow me to get through with without delay, 
that I may return to chosen and usual work. My beloved 
brother, let me have the benefit of your prayers, that I may 
be preserved and supported. Write me also to Memphis 
all that you tliink of the matter. That, for some time to 
come, will be my headquarters. I shall decline acting 
as agent for the university ; while the war lasts, I can do 
nothing, and do not, in that case, think it right to hold 
the ofiice. 

Our future is in God's hands : let us be content to leave it 
with him, and hope he may let us see more of each other in 
the future. 

Mr. Davis perfectly understood the spirit in which 
Polk accepted the duty which had been thrust upon him, 
as the following extract from a letter from Mr. Davis to 
the writer very clearly shows : 

326 ''THE SWORn OVEH THE GOWN." [18U1 

I have said your father was raj' esteemed friend ; l)ut I will 
add I not only honored and held liira in the highest estimation. 
— I loved him. With such relation you will not be sui-prised 
at my solicitude that the "history of his military career," which 
you inform me is being written, should be so full as to do 
justice to his services and noble character. As he told me, 
when I tendered him a commission, it was amor pro aris et 
focis; like a Christian he entered on a patriot's duty. 

Profound satisfaction at the step Polk had taken was 
felt and expressed on all sides. In humorous allusion to 
Polk and General Gideon Pillow, the Tennesseans said 
that they were safe now, since they had the " sword of 
the Lord and of Gideon " to defend them. As he was 
descending the steps of the Capitol at Richmond a gen- 
tleman of his acquaintance stopped him to eongi-atulate 
him on his ''promotion.'' '-Pardon me,"' said Polk 
gravely ; '' I do not consider it a promotion. The highest 
office on earth is that of a bishop in the Church of God." 
Another friend half seriously exclaimed to him, " What ! 
you, a bishop, throw off the gown for the sword ! " " No, 
sir," was the instant reply, " I buckle the sword over the 
gown." In this laconic phrase the sentiment and pur- 
pose of the bishop in taking arms as a soldier were 
truly as well as felicitously expressed ; and they were 
never changed. Only a few days before he fell on Pine 
Mountain, he said to a friend, " I feel like a man whose 
house is on fii-e, and who has left his business to put it 
out. As soon as the "svar is over I shall return to my 
proper calling." 

It is to be remembered that when Polk took service it 
was distinctly to meet the temporary emergency for 
which the "provisional army" under his command was 
organized. He consented to command it only until a 
suitable successor could be fomid ; and he had tlie ex- 


plicit promise of the President that he should be released 
from service at the earliest possible time. From first to 
last he regarded his military occupation as a painful 
interrujjtion of liis sacred labors in the ministry; but so 
long as it 2>lc'ased divine Providence to continue that 
interruption, he considered it his duty to devote himself 
exclusively to "the work that lay next him." For the 
in-esent, therefore, while he was intensely interested in 
the progress of ecclesiastical affairs, he took no personal 
part in directing them. On the 22d of June, before his 
commission was issued, but after he had consented to 
accept it, he wrote to Bishop Elliott that he would not 
be able to attend the convention which was about to 
meet at Montgomery, and which he and Elliott had done 
so much to promote. In the circumstances which had 
arisen, the convention must do what it might find to do 
without him. For him, he said, there was now " sterner 
work on hand." He provided for the care of his people 
l)y accepting the brotherly offers of Bishops Elliott, 
Otey, and Lay to visit his parishes ; and so, committing 
his flock to the care of Almighty God and faithful breth- 
ren, he applied himself to the woi-k to which he firmly 
believed that God had specially called him. Thencefor. 
ward, until his death, he exercised no episcopal function 
or jurisdiction ; and he felt it to be right to abstain 
from all functions w^hich are pecuhar to the sacred min- 
istry. Therefore, while the influence of his Christian 
example was deeply felt by his associates and by the 
armies under his command, there were only four occa- 
sions on which he permitted himself to officiate as a 
priest. One of these was at the death-bed of the gallant 
Major Edward Butler, who fell at Belmont ; his second 
clerical act was to perform the wedding ceremony at the 
marriage of General John Morgan ; the third, performed 

328 POLK'S lIKAirr IN THE CHUJiCIf. [1801 

within a montli of liis dcatli, was the l)ai)ti8ni of General 
Hood ; and the fourtli was the l)aptisni of General Joe 
Johnston a few days later. 

If General Polk did not exercise tlie jurisdiction of a 
I'ishop, and if lie thoii<^lit it proper to abstain from other 
functions of the niinistr}', it was not of voluntary choice, 
but from a sense of fitness. His heart was with his peo- 
l)le, his best affections went out to his brethren of the 
ministry. As the days grew into months, and months 
into years, his love for them grew only stronger. Thus, 
on May 4, 1863, he wrote to Bishop Elliott : 

Headquarters, PolkVs Corps, May 4, 1863. 

Mij dear Elliott : Dr. Quintard goes to the meeting of the 
council, and I write by him. How I should like to be with 
you ! — but I cannot yet. Quintard will tell you how things are 
with us. and how we long to see you and coinmime with you 
and our dear brethren generally; but we canuot yet. And 
yet what a rehef it would be ! Can you not come and see 
me ? My feet are fast in the stocks, and I cannot get to see 
you ! I tliink, too, you might do gi'eat good by coming. 
Come up and preach for us, and visit us, and administer the 
communion to us, and confirm oiu' young people and old. 
You cannot spend a week or so more profitably. Come and 
bring Wdmer with you and "refresh our bowels"; for we 
many times feel gi'eatly the need of such refreshing. 

Something should be done for the children of the Church in 
the army ; very little or nothing is being done. Can you not 
send us some clei'gymen ? I am amazed that so few are 
found willing to labor in such a cause. What higher or holier 
could they ask ? 

I fear our brother Otey is approaching his last days. I 
hear he is in bed and cannot well get out again. But I had 
rather talk with you than write you, so come and let us see 
you face to face. 

I think you and Wilmer, who are both so near us, might 
come and see " how we do." 

.^t. 55] A STAMTLEh VLEIUJY. 329 

Nevertheless, the unusual, though surely not unpi-eee- 
dentecl, step of a bishop "buckling the sword over the 
gown " could not but call forth criticism. At the North 
it was unsparingly condemned, of course; but even 
at the North there were those who could do justice 
to the man while deeply regretting the course he had 
thought it right to take. Thus, after Polk's death, the 
venerable Hopkins, Presiding Bishop of the Church in 
the United States, wrote in these terms to Mrs. Polk : 

I deeply regretted your dear husband's act in accepting- a 
general's commission in the army ; but I never doubted that 
he was governed by the purest conscientious desire to do 
what he regarded as his duty to God and to his country 
The spirit of a Christian martyr was an element in liis lofty 
character, and while I could not have seen the case in the 
same light, I was well persuaded that he regarded his course 
as a sacrifice laid on the altar of truth, and went forth believ- 
ing himself to be called to wield the sword of the Lord and 
of Gideon. To our beloved brethren in the South he has left 
a legacy of zeal and devotion never surpassed and rarely 
equaled in the whole range of human history. And the 
memory of his labors for the Church, and his sacrifices in the 
cause of independence, will be cherished in the hearts of 
thousands through future generations, after the false glory of 
worldly triumphs shall have passed away. 

The southern bishops and other clergy were startled 
at fii'st at the news that the Bishop of Louisiana had 
accepted a military command, and not a few of them 
regretted it. But there was not one who doubted the 
unselfishness or the integrity of purpose by which he 
had been actuated, and it was not long before the gi^eat 
majority of them came to feel that for Leonidas Polk to 
have taken any other course would have been nearly or 
quite an impossibility. A quaint letter from Bishop 


Meade of Virginia expresses a state of mind wliicli Avas 
very general in August, 1861 : 

I see it has gotten into the northei-n papers that you came 
to see me on the subject of accepting office in the army, and 
that I said you were ah-eady in high office in the army of tlie 
Lord, the Church; but that the result was your acceptance; 
leaving the impression, either that you felt bound to engage in 
the war, or that I was not much opposed, or both. This is, 
I presume, about the right conclusion. Ever since you left 
me I have felt a strong interest in the movement; and now 
that you are actually in the field, I feel an earnest desire to 
hear of all your movements, and of the state of things in that 
part of our country in which you are appointed as a home 
guard on a most extensive scale. 1 wish you woidd once 
a week just drop me a line about your movements and pros- 
pects. A few moments will answer for this, and ^yill afford 
me much relief and satisfaction. 

Bishop Elliott expressed the same Adew as that taken 
by Bishop Meade. "My opinion," he said, "coincides 
very much mth that of Bishop Meade, that, as a gen- 
eral thing, it was inexpedient, but in your particular 
case, and under the circumstances of our western coun- 
try, very defensil^le. I am jealous for you with a great 
jealousy, and shall watch for you with great vigilance 
and love." Among the clergy in general much the same 
feeling prevailed. Whatever any one might think of 
the abstract question of the clergy taking armSj no one 
pretended to blame Polk or to pronounce judgment 
upon him. All sorts of letters were poured in upon him 
expressing the mingled admiration and perplexity of the 
writers. One correspondent frankly declared that the 
rei)ort had " taken his breath away," but added that after 
rejection lie liad been convinced of the moi-al heroism of 
the step that had been taken, and closed his letter Avith 


the expression of a regret that the lack of a military 
education should prevent his following Polk's example ! 
The warm-hearted Dr. Leacock, rector of Christ Church, 
New Orleans, confessed to an amusing inward conflict 
between his conviction that Polk must have been right 
and a fear that he might have been carried away by the 
impetuosity — "Polkism," Leacock called it — of his fer- 
vent nature, and he said, " The whole cannonade of the 
North could not have shaken me more than the an- 
nouncement of your course, but I stood the fire because 
I had confidence in my leader." As time passed, all 
these discussions ceased, and from all sides Polk was 
cheered by communications breathing nothing but af- 
fectionate admiration. After a time Bishop Meade de- 
fended his action " against all objections, as an excep- 
tion to a general rule, imperiousl}^ demanded by the 
emergencies of the country." Bishop Ote}^, of Tennes- 
see, was one of those, as his daughter wi-ites, who " al- 
ways upheld and justified Bishop Polk for the step he 
took in becoming a soldier." He visited Polk at Colum- 
bus, and while there made the following entry in his 
diar}' : '' I slept with G(^neral Polk last night, and had 
much interesting and gi-atifyiug conversation with him, 
especially concerning his i)osition and his earnest desire 
to be relieved from it. We had sweet communion in 
prayer morning and night. He stands higher in my 
esteem than ever." And later on, when almost crushed 
by the miseries of his people, exiled from home, and 
slowly sinking into his grave, he wrote to Polk under 
date of July 15, 1862 : 

My dear Brother: I have endeavored to be with you daily 
and nightly in spirit, invoking God's protection in all dangers, 
his guidance in all difficulties, his support under all your 


trials, his grace to comfort you in all your sorrows. I can 
do no more. What a pleasui*e it will be to see your face once 

But Elliott, the l)rotlier of his heart, was his con- 
stant correspondent, and Elliott voiced the feeling of all 
his brethren. On October 3, 18G1, he wrote : 

"We have been most anxiously watching events in your 
part of the military field, and must say that you have exhib- 
ited more nei*ve and activity than has been displayed any- 
where else. . . . Your letters, and especially your refusal to 
fall back from Columbus, have given us imf eigned dehght." 

After the battle of Miul'reesboi'o, Bishop Elliott wrote 

again : * 

January 9, 1863. 
Most heartily do I thank God for tlie glorious victory, for 
the gallantry which distiuguished you, and for your personal 
safety. . . . We have been in a state of great tmnult for the 
last week over this battle and yourself. AU send you their 
warmest love and admiration. . . . And now, my more than 
brother, may God have you in his holy care and keeping ; 
may he watch over and guard you and yours, and preserve 
you unharmed througli this cruel war: and may we often meet 
over peaceful firesides to recall the hoiTors of this period, and 
to thank God for all his mercies toward us. I have come 
to this new year, and so have you, with an unbroken circle, 
and we of all men shoidd be most thankful, for we have had 
representatives upon almost every battlefield. 

While Polk was not a man to be moved from what he 
held to be his duty by the censure of others, he was 
deeply gi*atiiied by the approval of men whom he es- 
teemed, and he was anxious to be understood by them. 
He was particidarly anxious that it should be known 
that he was only meeting an emergency, and that in 


taking a command he had not been dazzled by dreams 
of military glory, but had simply accepted what he be- 
lieved to be an imperative, though exceptional, duty. To 
one of his j'ounger clergy who had been his assistant 
rector, and had succeeded him as rector of Trinity 
Church, New Orleans, and who had WTitten him on De- 
cember 25, 18G1, he returned the following reply : 

Columbus, Ky., February 4, 1862, 
My dear Fulton : I have received your kind letter of Christ- 
mas Day, and have not had a moment I could call my own to 
reply to it before. 

I thank you for the cordial sympathy and confidence it 
breathes. Such things — and I am glad to say I have had many 
such — are a great cordial to the soul, and help to support one 
in the discharge of duty. My life is one of unceasing toil and 
anxiety. The work I do is without intermission, and aU 
indispensable. How I stand up under it is a matter of sur- 
prise to many, not less than myself. But I have been won- 
derfully sustained. I took the office only to fill a gap, — only 
because the President, as he said, could find no one to whom 
he could with satisfaction devolve its duties. I have always 
regai'ded myself as a locum tencns, and have ever been desirous 
to have some one make his appearance, of competent ability, 
and with a commission to relieve me. As yet I have waited 
in vain for the man to take my post and let me return to my 
cherished work. I have labored as though I regarded my 
employment as permanent, while I have been encouraged and 
promised it shoidd ))e terminated "as soon as practicable," and 
if the relief cannot be found, I shall go on, by God's blessing, 
with fidelity to the end. I hope you are all getting on well 
with your flocks. I think of you all and carry you in my 
heart with earnest remembrance day by day. May the good 
Lord take care of you all. I have asked Bishops Otey and 
Lay to make a visitation of the chui-ches of my diocese for 
me, and hope they meij do so. I have written the Standing 
Connnittee to that effect. 


Give my love to all the bretliren and the members of your 
ilock, and beUeve me, very ti'uly and faithfully, 

Yours in Christ, 

Leonidas Polk. 

In his letter to Mr. Fulton, as in otlier letters, Leonidas 
Polk was at pains to express his strong desire to be re- 
lieved from his military charge and to return to his "cher- 
ished work." But he did not tell the steps he had already 
taken to secure relief, and he gave no hint that he was 
even then renewing his efforts to the same end. Before 
entering on the history of his campaigns, the present 
seems to be the proper place in Avliich to tell that part 
of his story. 

On the appointinent of General Albert Sidney John- 
ston to the command of the Southwest in September, 
1861, the necessity which had required Polk to enter the 
army seemed to have been removed. Johnston was a 
soldier of the highest reputation, of large experience, 
implicitly trusted by the government, and almost wor- 
shiped by the troops under his command. He Avas the 
friend of l\)lk's youth and the man whose appointment 
he had urged, in preference to all others, as the com- 
mander of that department. Polk felt, therefore, that 
the time had come when he might pr()i)erly resign his 
commission. Accordingly, as soon as he had finished 
some impoi-tant work in which he was engaged, he sent 
his resignation to the President. The letter is here 

Headqu.\p.ters, 1st Division, Western Department, 

Columbus, Ky., Nov. 6, 1861. 

Sir: Yoii will remember with what reluctance I consented 

to accept the commission of major-jreneral in the provisional 

army. You will remember also that the considerations in- 

ducLngr my acceptance were the duty which I felt I owed the 


country at whose hands I had received a military education, 
in connection with the diflSeulty of your finding a commander 
to whom you were willing to entrust the department you 
wished to assign to me. These considerations, supported by 
the conviction that "resistance to tyrants is duty to God," 
warranted my turning aside from employments far more con- 
genial to my feelings and tastes, to devote myself for the time 
to the military service of the country. 

I have been in that service now more than four months, 
and have devoted myseK with imtuing constancy to the duties 
of my ofl&ce, with what eflciency and success the country must 

Within the last few weeks you have been able to avail 
yourself of a distinguished militaiy commander, our mutual 
friend, who was not in the country at the date of my appoint- 
ment, upon whom you have devolved, partly at my instance, 
the duties of the office I consented to fill. 

It will be agreed, I believe, upon all hands, that a more 
judicious selection could not have been made, and that his 
military knowledge and experience will supply all that was 
needed. I have been wilUng to remain as second in command 
until the fortifications at Fort Pillow and at this very impor- 
tant point are completed. This has now been substantially 
accomplished, and I feel that, as the necessity which induced 
me to take office no longer exists, and as the other general 
officers with whom I have been associated are men of ability 
and experience, I may be permitted to retire and resume my 
former pursuits. 

I beg leave, therefore, to tender to you my resignation of 
my commission as major-general of the provisional army of 
the Confederate States. 

I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant, 

L. Polk, Major-Gen. Commanding. 

His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, 
President, C. S. A. 

Polk's letter of resignation was written tlie day before 
lie fonght the battle of Belmont, which will he described 


elsewhere. Two days after the battle he sent to General 
Johnston a copy of his letter of resignation enclosed in a 
personal letter, in whicli he full}- explained the motives 
Avhich had actuated him in accepting his commission, 
and which now prompted him to lay it down. He did 
not conceal his strong inclination to remain in the ser- 
vice to support liis old friend in the performance of 
duty; but he contended that the necessity which had 
required his ser\ice no longer existed, and that his duty 
now requii-ed him to return to his appropriate work. 
His letter was as follows : 

Headquarters, 1st Divisiox, Western Department. 
Columbus, November 9, 1861. 

My dear General: It is due to you to send you a copy of 
the accompanying letter whicli I have addressed and sent to 
President Davis. ]My turning aside from the path I have 
chosen, for the purpose of entering on the duties of the office 
I now fill, was, as I told you in one of our conversations, not 
a matter of my own seeking, but the prompting of our firieud, 
the President, and, as I have remarked in my letter to him, 
was done with great reluctance, the moving consideration 
being Ids inability to find one to wliom he was willing to on- 
trust the command of the Western Department. Yoxu- name 
being pi-esented by me to him, the reply was that you were 
not in the country ; and I accepted to fill the gap. Many of 
my most judicious friends thought that in this I did an ex- 
treme thing; but, conscious of acting fi-om a sense of duty. I 
accepted the office. 

When you an-ived and were appointed, I thouglit I might 
then be released ; but as I had taken in hand some important 
defenses, I felt as if I might be useful to the country in seeing 
them completed first. This object ha\dng been now accom- 
plished, and the particular necessity forming the excuse for 
my taking military service no longer existing, I have felt I 
was not at Uberty to continue to withdraw myself fi'om my 
other duties: and this, too, when there were so many men of 


ability in the country, having no such obligations, who were 
free to engage in the duties I am now discharging. These 
views I have held to friends for some time past, and I feel the 
time has come when I may be permitted to retire. I am on 
many accounts strongly tempted to remain and continue to 
support you, and if my services were essential to the success 
of the army, I should feel my position one of extreme em- 
baiTassment; but, that not being by any means the case, T 
must claim the privilege of being guided by that sense of 
duty in retiring from the mihtary service which influenced me 
in accepting it, being persuaded you can find among the 
general officers under your command one who can fill my 
place far more satisfactorily than I do. I have asked, as you 
will see by this letter enclosed, the acceptance of my resigna- 
tion of my commission. I remain, 

Very truly your friend, 

L. Polk, Major-Gen. Commanding. 

Polk sent his resignation to President Davis by the 
hand of his son and aide-de-camp, Hamilton, who was 
instrncted to nrge its acceptance upon the President. 
But after the battle of Belmont it was simply impossible 
for President Davis to comply with his request. For the 
present, therefore, he refused, kindly and courteously 
but firmly, to entertain it, promising, however, to remem- 
ber Polk's desire as soon as the w-elfare of the country 
should permit. The President's letter was as follows : 

Richmond, Va., Nov. 12, 1861. 

j\[jf dear Sir: 1 have the honor to acknowledge yours of 
November 6th, which I had the pleasure to receive from your 
son, and to reply that I think the present condition of the 
service imperiously demands your continuance in the army — 
at least vmtil there is such change as will justify me in substi- 
tuting you by another. 

I did not expect General Johnston to relieve you of your 
special charge, nor is it possil^le that he should do so. His 


cominand embraces so great an extent of territory that its 
successful defense must mainly depend upon the efficiency of 
the di^dsion commanders. You are master of the subjects in- 
volved in the defense of the Mississippi and its contiguous 
temtory. You have just won a victory which gives you 
fresh claims to the affection and confidence of your troops. 
How should I hope to replace you without injury to the 
cause which you beautifully and reverently described to me, 
when you resolved to enter the military service, as equally 
that of our altars and our firesides? 

Whilst oui' trust is in God as our shield, he requires of us 
that all human means shall be employed to justify us in ex- 
pecting his favor. I must ask you, then, to postpone your 
resignation, and be assured that I will not forget your desire 
to resume your ftmctions as bishop of a diocese of the 
Church, and will be happy to gratify your wish as soon as 
the public welfare will permit. 

Verj' respectfully your friend, 

Jeffeesox Davis. 

Major-Gexeral L. Polk. 

By the same mail which carried Mr. Davis's letter 
above wiitten, Mr. Memminger, Confederate Secretary 
of the Treasury, wTote urging- General Polk to abandon 
Ills wish to retire from the army. His arguments could 
not fail to have weight with a man of Polk's high sense 
of Christian and patriotic duty. 

RiCllMOXD, November 12, 1S61 . 
Mij dear Bishop : I am much concerned at learning from 
the President your desu-e to resign your military' office. I 
have read your letters, and you will see from the President's 
reply that you are mistaken in supposing that General 
Johnston's ajipointment relieves the necessity cf your ser- 
vices. Permit me as a brother in the Lord to say that I 
think both you and I are just as much called and ordamed to 
the posts we occupy as the presbyter upon whom your hands 
are laid. The President is, in his high office, the minister of 


God for the State ; and when, in the discharge of liis office, 
he calls npou you as best qualified to defend the altar of God 
and the homes of your peoy^le, it seems to me to become an 
indication of Providence. For myself, I have not been able 
to put aside such a call. I have never put your case to any 
conscientiovis layman in this respect that he did not approve 
and honor your 'course. Even the tribe of Levi, when Moses 
called for those on the Lord's side, took the sword and swept 
away the enemies of his authority; and when the silver 
trumpets were blown, the whole country came forth for 
defense, and the Lord was with the people, as I trust he is 
with us. I earnestly hope that you will feel it expedient to 
retain your command until a fitting successor can be found, 
and the strongest pro\T.dential indication is the fact that at 
present no one can take your place. I think there would be 
serious damage to the pubhc interests by devolving the com- 
mand upon your subordinates; and now that the Lord has 
given you the late glorious victory, your influence is de- 
servedly higher among the soldiers, and you will draw greater 
numbers to your banner. May God bless, dii-ect, and pre- 
serve you. Very truly yours, 

T,r ni T T>^ , C. C. MEMMINGER. 

Major-General L, Polk. 

Mr. Memminger's appeal was supported by a letter 
from Bisliop Meade, in which Polk was assured of the 
confidence and approval of Ms brethren in the Church. 
Bishop M(?ade had recently laid his case before the Presi- 
dent and had been told that General Polk could not be 
spared. Bishop Meade's letter is dated Millwood, No- 
vember ir)th. His simple but vivid description of the 
condition of northern Virginia, and of the sacrifices 
made thus early in the war by the women and non-com- 
batants in the .aid of the army were well calculated to 
stir the spirit of a soldier. 

My dear Brother: On returning home, on the sick hst, a 
few days since, I found yotir esteemed favor of the 26th of 


September, and being unable to go to church on this our fast 
(lay, T will oniploy a few moments of it in writing to you. 
[ had read and highly approved what you addressed to the 
public authorities, and have rejoiced with others in the belief 
that you have done good service in Tennessee, and elsewhere, 
by wise counsels. That you have contributed your pai't to 
the late victory, and have been preserved alive and unhurt, is 
a subject of thankfulness to your many friends. May you 
V)e spared and enabled to render yet more and greater service 
to our cause, which daily appears to be more just and impor- 
tant, and to have the blessing of God. 

On my way to Columbia, early in October, when in Rich- 
mond, I called on President Davis and proposed to him 
this question : Whether in the changed circumstances of the 
army in the West, so many able generals having taken the 
field, you might not now be spared without injury to the 
cause? To this he emphatically replied in the negative, add- 
ing that there was a complication of circumstances requii-ing 
your continuance. I said that I would not have you with- 
draw if such were the case, and would justify your continu- 
ance to all the brethi-en whom I should meet at Columbia. 

Your acceptance of the otiice I had defended before against 
all objections, as an exception to a general rule imperiously 
demanded by the emergencies of the country. 

I stated the President's answer and my owm convictions to 
a number of the bishops and clergy at Columbia, and heard 
no objections, though I suppose there may have been some 
who doubted. Some of the northern papers, as was to be 
expected, condemned and anathematized ; but they are not 
competent judges for us. The Church InteUigeneer of Noi*tli 
Carolina also condemned your course ; but its defense of the 
proposition to change the name of our Church, and some 
other articles in it, against the view of Elliott and yourself 
as to the effect of secession, will weaken its effects in the 
South. ... 

I am now in winter quarters, being laid up with a cold and 
cough which must keep me housed imtil spring. My days of 
labor nnist soon be numbered ; and my old age. instead of 


being peaceful and quiet, will be spent iu the midst of wars 
and rumors of wars. The enemy is again in the valley, 
about fifty miles from me, and threatening a nearer appi'oach, 
after having plundered corn, wheat, and cattle on the north 
and south branches of the Potomac — sending the same to 
Washington. We are preparing the militia, with some regu- 
lars, to drive them out, if practicable ; but the demands at 
Manassas are so great, under the expectation of a great bat- 
tle, and the necessity of a force at Leesburg to resist Banks's 
army in Maryland is such that we cannot get the forces 
which are desirable, if not indispensable. . . . 

Our diocese is, of course, in a state of much affliction. Our 
seminary, high school. The Southern Churchman, and Alex- 
andria are in the enemy's hands. Many of our clergy are 
driven from their congregations and liom^s. Ouj- candidates 
for the ministry are nearly all in the ranks, oiu- schools and 
colleges reduced to perhaps one tenth of their numbers. But 
still 1 hear not a word of complaint or doubt as to the vigor- 
ous prosecution of the war at whatever cost. Our females, 
young and old, are laboring diligently with their hands, 
knitting and sewing. Comforts of all kinds are poured in 
on our armies of sick ones. Not only are many famihes strip- 
ping themselves of blankets, but cutting up their carpets to 
make coverlets for the soldiers. On returning home, 1 found 
but one narrow slip in each of my rooms, and praised ray 
daughter for what she had done. My son, with whom I 
live, has been employed for more than two months in 
carrying comforts to the sick and dying soldiers from this 
part of the State, amounting to twenty-two horse-wagon 
loads, for which he and those who furnish them receive 
most gi-ateful thanks. 

Still another equally strong remonstrance against 
Polk's withdrawal from the army was received from one 
of equal piety and authority in the Church, Bishop Otey, 
but the letter seems to have reached Polk after he had 
decided to retain his commission : 

342 BISnoP OTEY'S ]i?:M(>XSTliANCK. [1861 

jMemtois, December 4, 1861. 

My beloved Brother : Upon returning home, day before yes- 
terday, I received copies of the letter addressed to you by 
Mr. Memmiiicrer and the President on the subject of your 
resignation of your command in the provisional army, etc. 
If any doubt lingered in your mind as to the propriety of 
retaining a position into which 30U have been called by the 
wise providence of God, it seems to me that it should bo 
removed by the statements and reasonings of those letters. 
Your letter of the 6th of November tendering your resigna- 
tion of your commission of major-general, of which I have just 
made a copy, will triumphantly vindicate the purity of your 
motives and the high and noble considerations which have 
influenced your course, and will justify your retention of 
your command in the view of all reflecting and right-minded 
men. If examples of men of like profession and similarly 
situated with yourself, who have been called to take up arms 
for the defense of the altars of God and of their country, be 
called for, they can be readily furnished from the record of 
Holy Writ. The conduct of Phinehas, Numbers xxv, 10, 11, 
was so praiseworthy that it elicited the divine commendation 
in the remarkable words: "The Lord spake unto Moses, 
saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the 
priest, hath turned my wrath away from the childi-en of 
Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I 
consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy." And 
David, commenting on the transaction, commends his conduct 
by saying: ''And that was counted unto him for righteousness 
among aU posterities forevermore.'' The case of Samuel the 
prophet is equally pertinent, for he repeatedly led the armies 
of Israel to battle, and, on one occasion, himself took the 
sword and "hewed Agag," the king of Amalek, "in pieces 
before the Lord." 

If ever man di'ew the sword in the cause of righteousness 
and justice, in defense of tlie dearest and most sacred rights 
of man, I think you have done so, and I need not assure you 
that my poor prayers are daily offered for your success and 
your preservation. I had intended to A^-rite you much on 


this subject 5 but I know that your time is too valuable to be 
consumed in reading what my heart prompts me to write, 
when all that I might say is comprehended in the few lines 
above written. The approval of your own conscience, which 
I fully believe you have, is of more worth and comfort to you 
than all the words of man's approbation and sympathy. 

It was not for many days that Polk could make up 
his mind to waive his desire to be relieved. Before 
replying to the President, he made liis resolution known 
to General Johnston, and, as Colonel William Preston 
Johnston says in his " Life " of his father, " it was no 
small comfort to Johnston to feel that, in this important 
command, he had an old friend in whose fidelity and 
ability he placed unbounded confidence." To the Presi- 
dent General Polk's answer was as follows : 

Headquarters, 1st Division, Western Department, 
Columbus, Ky., Dec. 8, 1861, 
Sir: Your letter of November 12th in reply to mine on the 
subject of my resignation of appointment of major-general 
in the Confederate army has been received. I appreciate the 
confidence you have been pleased to express in me. After 
carefully considering all my responsibilities in the premises, 
and your deliberate judgment as to the necessities of the 
service, I have concluded to waive the pressing of my applica- 
tion for a release from further service, and have determined 
to retain my office so long as I may be of service to our cause. 
I remain, 

FaithfuUy your friend, 

L. Voi^K, Major-Gen. Commanding. 
To His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, 
President, C. S. A. 

From the language of the foregoing letter it might 
have been inferred that Polk had abandoned all further 
thought of retiring from the arjuy ; but it was not so. 


He had abandoned it only until it should appear to bis 
superiors in office, as weU as to himself, that the neees- 
sil y for his service in the army was at an end. Less 
than two months afterward he was led to believe that 
the necessity had passed, and he instantly telegraphed 
the folloA\ing dispatch to Richmond : 

Headquarters, 1st Division, Western Department, 
Columbus, Ky., Jan. 30, 1862. 

Mr. F resident : Having been informed that the condition of 
the service on the Potomac is such as to make it unnecessary to 
retain so many general officers on that line as have hitherto 
been engaged there, and that one or more may be spared for 
service in the West, I have respectfully to renew the applica- 
tion I made to you in my letter of the 6th of November, to be 
relieved from my command in the army, and pennitted to re- 
turn to the duties of my episcopal office. You were pleased 
to say in youi- reply of the 12th of the same month that you 
desired me to postpone my resignation until a change in the 
then existing condition of affairs might take place ; that you 
would not forget my wishes ; and that you would gi-atify them 
as soon as practicable. In comphance with your desire I 
withdrew my resignation. 

The want of a general officer to whom the command might 
be entrusted, who could be spared fi-om other service, l^eing 
the objection to the acceptance of my resignation when ten- 
dered, and that obstacle no longer existing, I desire again 
respectfully to renew my application, and to express the hope 
that the serWce I have rendered in my peculiar circumstances 
may be accepted as my contrdiulion in that line to a cause the 
success of which is no longer doubtful. 

Kespectfully your obedient servant, 

L. Polk. Major- General, C. S. A. 

His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, 
President, C. S. A. 

In reply to this dispateh Polk received no less than 
three letters, wliicli convinoed him that the hopeful ^^ew 


he had been led to take of the immediate prospects of the 
Confederacy was not shared by the authorities at Rich- 
mond. The fii'st was from the Hon. John Perkins. Jr., 
member of the Confederate Congress from Louisiana : 

Richmond, February 1, 18G2. 

My dear General: The President showed me the day be- 
fore yesterday a telegraphic despatch he had just receivtd 
from you, renewing a request previously made to be relieved 
from your present command, and told me that he had written 
you that your services could not be spared, and then pro- 
ceeded to speak of you in terms most grateful to my feelings. 

Yoirr name came up in our conversation accidentally, and 
the President spoke, not for effect, but in the confidence that 
exists between us on public men and public business, and his 
expressions were so wai'm that I begged him for permission 
to repeat them. 

I write you now to beg that you will dismiss all idea of i-e- 
signing your position in the army. Indeed, my dear general, 
as a member of Congress, I feel I have almost the right to 
protest against your permitting the pubUc to know that you 
ever thought of taking such a step. T can say in the sincerity 
of friendship, and without violation of secrecy, that I have 
never heard, either on the floor of Congress or from any other 
official of the government, other than the highest estimate 
placed upon your services as a military man. The report of 
the Secretary of War, now in the hands of the printer, speaks 
of you in connection with the battle of Belmont in terms of 
the most beautiful praise. 

Your report of that battle was made an exception by Con- 
gress, and was ordered to be printed several weeks in advance 
of those of other generals. Under these circumstances, I feel 
that, in writing you as I do, I speak the sentiment of those 
connected with both branches of the government. I ex- 
pressed a fear to the President that your wish to resign might 
be influenced by the fact of General Beauregard having been 
ordered to the same military district with yourself. He 
assured me, however, that your application was made prior 


to the order given General Beauregard ; and then went on to 
say that your services were more needed now than when you 
first addressed him on the subject, but intimated that the 
action of the Episcopal Convention that met in November 
might have influenced your feelings. I sincerely trust that 
this may not be the case, and that, ha\'ing once assumed a 
prominent position in defense of our country, you may not 
weaken our cause by even a seeming reluctance to continue 
in its service. This is a moment of peculiar peril, and we re- 
quire all the moral force that can be brought to bear to con- 
firm and strengthen our military authorities. I do not feel 
that I have a right to urge upon you the necessity of sacri- 
ficing individual inclinations in view of great pubhc duties 
imposed upon us in time of great national trials. This duty, 
I know, was felt when you laid aside, temporarily, the care of 
your diocese to assume a military command ; but I have feared 
you might not reahze fully the effect that a suiTender of that 
command would now have upon the success of our arms. 
The difficulties of your position are, I assure you, fidly ap- 
preciated, as well as the feebleness of the resoiurces at your 
disposal, in front of an enemy greatly superior in men and 
military equipments. I would write with much more feeling 
if I was not aware that I addressed myself to one accustomed 
to act after mature reflection and a conscientious weighing 
of all those considerations which should influence a patriot in 
determining upon the path of duty; and am very sincerely 
your friend, Jno. Perkins, Jr. 

Leonidas Polk, Major-General, C. S. A., 

The second letter was fi-om Mr. A. T. Bledsoe, Assist- 
ant Secretary of War, an intimate acquaintance, for- 
merly Professor of Mathematics in the University of 
Virginia, whom Polk had frequently consulted in the 
<)ri2:anization of the University of the South, and whom 
lie luul fully exi)ected to be elected to a chair iu that in- 
stitution. Mr. Bledsoe's letter was as follows : 

^t. 55] LETTER FROM A. T. BLEDSOE. 347 

Confederate States of America, War Department, 
Richmond, February 3, 1862. 

My dear General : I sincerely rejoice to learn, as I have done 
from several sources, tliat you have almost, if not entirely, re- 
covered from the effects of the explosion of the cannon. 

I am deeply grieved, however, to hear that you have some 
thoughts of retiring from the service. I hope, and beg, and 
pray that you will not do so. 

President Davis expected gi-eat tilings of you when you 
were appointed, and there has not been to this day the abate- 
ment of one jot or tittle in his expectations. I know he 
would be sadly grieved if you were to resign. What is true 
of Davis is also time of your other friends, and especially of 

But what is the opinion of man "? What the opinion of 
presidents, or priests, or laymen, or bishops? You know, 
and you feel, that you have engaged in as gi-eat and as 
sacred a cause as ever enlisted the services of manj and, in 
this cause, you have just begun to act. I know you can 
render most important, most valuable services. I have said 
so from the first, and know it now more fully than before 
you were tried. Turn not back, I implore you, but hold right 
on in spite of all opposition of all kinds. Ten thousand 
hearts are with you, and look to you as one of our most effi- 
cient generals. We feel as if we could not spare you. I 
feel as if I were only uttering the sentiment of the people of 
the Confederacy when I say you must not resign. 

Pardon me, I beseech you, if in this simple and earnest 
outpouring of my heart, I have said anything offensive to 
you. I have no time, as you can well imagine, to weigh my 
words in the midst of so much business. 

May the Lord direct you into the right way, is the prayer 

of your servant, friend, and brother, 

A. T. Bledsoe. 

The third letter was from the President liiniself. It 
was kindly, considerate, and even affectionate ; hnt it was 
nneqnivocally firm in its statement that Polk's rcsio'na- 

348 FALL OF FOUT llENUY. [18G1 

tion could not be entertained, and it begged him to 
** abandon for the present all thought of resigning." 

Richmond, Va., February 7, 1862. 

My dear General: I have the honor to acknowledge yours 
of the 30th ult. It having been my good fortune to converse 
freely with your son, lie will communicate to you my views 
in relation to the subject of your letter more freely than I 
can now offer them in wi'iting. I felt, and feel, unwilling to 
detain you in the military service beyond the necessity for 
your pi'esence, and wish the opportunity for the fulfillment of 
my promise enabled me to comply with your renewed re- 
quest. When you gave yourseK to the militai'y service, the 
moral effect was most beneficial. Now you have gained an 
amount of special information of great impoi'tance to the 
defense of the Mississippi Valley ; and at the moment when 
clouds are gathering over the field of your labors, we can 
least afford to lose you. 

The news of the fall of Fort Henry has just reached us. 
Looking to the public interest, and as your friend, watchful 
of your owTi welfare, I must beg that you abandon for the 
present all thought of resigning. 

You have been overworked, and I can appreciate the con- 
dition of one whose cares follow both his waking and sleeping 
hours ; in that regard I have hoped to give you some relief 
by assigning General Beaiu-egard to dutj' at Columbus. He 
is an able engineer and full of resources, is covu-teous and 
energetic. He will, it is lioped, divide your troubles and 
muUiply your means to resist them. 

In vain have wo struggled to supply ourselves with the 
requisite arms. A few have been recently obtained. We an; 
liopeful of further supplies, and faithfully trusting in the 
(liver of aU good things, I rely upon more than I can sec 
of support to om' just cause. 

Affectionately your fi-iend, 

Jefferson Davis. 

Rt. Rev. L. Polk, Major-General. C. S. A. 


After such a letter as this from Ids commander-iu- 
chief, it was no longer possible for a soldier to. think of 
retiring from his post until relief should be offered. All 
that was now left to him was to g-o on with the duty- 
he had undertaken, " firm and steadfast to the end." It 
was a grievous disappointment to him, but he bore it 
like a Christian soldier, silently. 

If any man, soldier or civilian, priest or layman, after 
reading the brief statement of facts given in the present 
chapter, finds it in his heart to condemn Leonidas Polk 
or to blame him harshly, we "would not die in that 
man's company." 


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